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Coronaviruses and MS - a possible connection?

corona.jpgFeature Writer Ian Cook investigates an interesting theory

One of the curious consequences of the current Covid-19 pandemic is that it has re-awakened interest in viruses as a cause of multiple sclerosis (MS) and, particularly, coronaviruses, which cause the common cold as well as Covid-19.

Covid-19 is a member of the coronavirus family of viruses and, for a long time, it has been speculated that viruses may be the elusive environmental factor that, along with genes, cause auto-immunity that starts MS. For years researchers have looked at the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) as the most likely culprit. But, is it possible that coronaviruses, or a particular member of this family of viruses is involved, rather than EBV? And could the current Covid-19 pandemic lead to renewed interest in coronaviruses as a factor in causing MS?

The research

Research into coronaviruses and MS has been going on for at least 40 years and, during this time, much progress has been made in developing a theory about how a respiratory tract infection could lead to a neurological condition. A paper published in 2000 in the Journal of Virology titled “Neuroinvasion by Human Respiratory Coronaviruses” observed that upper respiratory tract infections of viral origin could be an important trigger of MS attacks. Moreover, it was said that coronavirus seasonal patterns fit the observed occurrence of MS relapses.

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