Multiple sclerosis is a debilitating disease that damages the brain and spinal cord and often causes life-changing symptoms. It is an autoimmune disorder that occurs when the immune system mistakes the body’s tissues as hostile and begins to attack the brain and spinal cord. This causes symptoms such as cognitive dysfunction, problems with balance and mobility, and muscle weakness that could result in permanent disability in the long term.
Although the exact cause of the condition is still unknown, researchers have long theorized that there may be a link between multiple sclerosis and glandular fever, an infection caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). The Epstein-Barr virus typically doesn’t cause any symptoms when it infects children, but it can lead to the development of glandular fever, also referred to as infectious mononucleosis, sometimes called mono or the “kissing disease.”
According to a 2022 study, a majority of multiple sclerosis patients had previously been infected with EBV, with the infection generally occurring several years before they developed multiple sclerosis. Researchers analyzed blood samples from more than 700 people with the autoimmune disorder as well as a control group to gain a better understanding of how autoimmunity causes various neurological symptoms in MS.
Autoimmunity refers to accidental friendly fire caused by a confused immune system. In the case of multiple sclerosis, this damage is limited to the brain and spinal cord.
The researchers found that MS patients had higher levels of antibodies that bind to a protein from the Epstein-Barr virus called EBNAI, corroborating prior research that found that MS patients tend to exhibit elevated levels of antibodies against the EBV protein. The researchers discovered that once these antibodies spring into action, they can target a brain protein called C (alpha-crystallin B) that looks similar to EBV rather than attack the virus itself.
Given that Cryab plays a crucial role in boosting anti-inflammation, there is a major chance MS symptoms may result from reduced Cryab numbers due to autoimmunity. Specifically, 23% of the study participants with multiple sclerosis had Cryab antibodies while only 7% of the control population had the antibodies, indicating that the antibodies may play a role in causing or progressing the autoimmune disorder in up to one-quarter of multiple sclerosis patients.
The researchers also studied the role played by T-Cells, which are at the forefront of fighting bacteria and other disease-causing microorganisms, and found that they may have a similar cross-reaction to Cryab and EBNAI. The scientists said that they would expand further research to investigate how T-cells deal with EBV infections as well as how they may cause damage to the central nervous system.
As more organizations such as BiondVax Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (NASDAQ: BVXV) focus on finding solutions to autoimmune diseases, patients afflicted with these ailments could soon have viable treatment options that not only halt the progression of the diseases but potentially reverse them.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to BiondVax Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (NASDAQ: BVXV) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://ibn.fm/BVXV
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