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Investigating Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and MS

Image shows various test tubes with a pipette
Lead researcher:
Dr Jill Brooks
Based at:
University of Birmingham
MS Society funding:

About the project

MS is thought to be an autoimmune condition, where the body’s own immune system mistakenly attacks the myelin coating around nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. It has been suggested that this autoimmune behaviour could be caused by a virus. The introduction of a virus might cause a strong immune response and some of that response recognises not only the virus but also, by chance, normal parts of the central nervous system, like myelin.

There is evidence to suggest a possible link between MS and the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). EBV is a common virus that most people acquire in childhood and then carry for life, usually with no harmful effects. This project aims to determine whether people with MS who have been exposed to EBV have an immune response that contains cells able to attack parts of the central nervous system.

How will it help people with MS?

We need researchers to investigate the possible causes of MS. This information will improve our understanding of the condition and could potentially lead to new ways of diagnosing or treating MS.

The difference you can make

You can help us Stop MS by supporting research like this – research that could help us understand the causes of MS and develop more effective treatments.