New Study Links Viral Infections to Autoimmune Disease

James Colquhoun JAMES COLQUHOUN

A new groundbreaking study has recently emerged from Harvard University’s leading researchers, connecting viral infections with autoimmune disease.

There are many reasons why this is so monumental, but a significant reason is that this study proves what many of us in the holistic health community have been saying for years - the body is more interconnected than we know.

The Harvard Study

A study published this January found that Multiple sclerosis (MS), a progressive disease that affects 2.8 million people worldwide and for which there is no definitive cure, is likely caused by infection with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). This was led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers.

Multiple sclerosis is a potentially disabling disease that occurs when immune system cells mistakenly attack the protective coating on nerve fibers, gradually eroding them. For those suffering from the condition, it can be a gradual death sentence if not managed properly.

“The hypothesis that EBV causes MS has been investigated by our group and others for several years, but this is the first study providing compelling evidence of causality,” said Alberto Ascherio, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard Chan School. “This is a big step because it suggests that most MS cases could be prevented by stopping EBV infection and that targeting EBV could lead to the discovery of a cure for MS.”

What Does This Mean For MS Treatment?

These findings, when explored further, can bring great hope to those currently living with MS, as a potential cure may be just around the corner. By considering how to best address EBV from an early age, we can look to tackle MS at the root cause.

Some companies have already jumped at the opportunity to be at the forefront of this research, with drug company Moderna Inc., best known for its COVID-19 vaccine, starting a small trial to discover similar prevention measures for EBV.

What Does This Mean For Public Health As A Whole?

This study currently only links two conditions, it shouldn’t be assumed for all viral infections and autoimmune diseases that function in different ways. However, it does pave the way for further research in the field to explore how other viral infections may be linked to autoimmune disease, and potentially vice versa.

But what is the moral of the story here? Catching a virus, even the world’s most common, can lead to potentially life-threatening disease years after infection. The human body is a highly complex, incredible organism - and it’s time we start treating it as such.

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