Now that I’ve got your attention I should apologise to Professor John Paul Leach, consultant neurologist at the University of Glasgow because the headline of this story isn’t entirely true. Unfortunately, all he is guilty of is doing his job and have a hypothesis for something we all want for multiple sclerosis (MS) – a cure.
Professor Leach has hypothesised that MS is caused by three-hits, strictly in order, in genetically susceptible persons. His three-tiered hypothesis is as follows:
A clinic-epidemiological model of MS as a rare late complication of two sequential infections (with the temporal sequence of infections being important)
A proposal that the first event is helminthic infection with Enterobius Vermicularis (threadworm), and the second is Epstein Barr Virus infection
A proposal for a testable biological mechanism, involving T-Cell exhaustion for Epstein Barr virus protein LMP2A.
The professor and his team believe that this model satisfies some of the as-yet unexplained features of MS epidemiology, is consistent with the clinical and neuropathological features of the disease and is potentially testable by experiment.
Put simply it is thought that MS develops when a susceptible person contracts two separate common infections, threadworm and the Epstein Barr Virus, which cause the body to attack itself. Doctor’s now believe that if this in fact is the case, a vaccine for one of the conditions, such as the Epstein Barr Virus could be created to prevent future people developing the condition.
Some of the main news outlets have sensationalised this story. Yes this is an exciting hypothesis, but if we will have to sit back and let the experts conducted experiments and clinical trials before we find out if this is truly an option for the future.
Professor Leach’s hypothesis was published in the journal Multiple Sclerosis & Related Disorders.
Blog by Sarah-Jane, Editor of New Pathways Magazine
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