Molecular Epidemiology of EBV and Multiple Sclerosis


Principal Investigator:
Alberto Ascherio, Professor


Dates of Research:
April 1, 2005 — March 31, 2010


This study investigates the role of the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and human herpes virus 6 (HHV- 6) in the etiology of multiple sclerosis (MS). This study will apply molecular methods to reveal the biological mechanisms that may relate MS to the EBV. As part of the proposed investigation researchers will determine the EBV viral load in cases and controls, and examine the roles of genetic variations in the host and the virus and whether to determine if they can predict the risk of MS. Strengths of the proposed investigation include sampling from two well-characterized cohorts that have already contributed several findings on the epidemiology of MS, a control group randomly chosen from the population that generated the cases, and the availability of blood samples collected before the onset of MS in a subset of cases. Most important is the interdisciplinary approach of the proposed project, which includes collaboration with experts in EBV virology, immunology, and MS genetics.