Multiple sclerosis reversed by transplanted immune cells that fight Epstein-Barr virus

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In a small trial, immune cells that fight the Epstein-Barr virus have stopped the progression of multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune condition that can lead to symptoms, such as difficulty walking, that worsen over time



Health



11 April 2022

Nerve demyelination. Coloured transmission electron micrograph (TEM) of a section through a Schwann cell and a nerve fibre, showing the early collapse of its myelin sheath. Myelin (red) is an insulating fatty layer that surrounds the nerve fibre (axon, orange), increasing the speed at which nerve impulses travel. It is formed when a Schwann cell (green) wraps around the fibre, depositing layers of myelin between each coil. Demyelination occurs in nerve disorders such as multiple sclerosis (MS). Patches (lesions) of myelin sheath are destroyed and nerve function is impaired. Magnification: x3800 when printed 10 centimetres wide.

Coloured transmission electron micrograph showing the early collapse of myelin sheath around a nerve fibre

STEVE GSCHMEISSNER/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Transplants of immune cells that target the Epstein-Barr virus have shown promise for treating multiple sclerosis in an early stage trial. Brain scans suggest the progression of the condition was reversed in some participants, but this needs to be confirmed by larger trials.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is caused by someone’s own immune system attacking the myelin coating that helps nerve cells conduct signals, causing a range of symptoms from fatigue to difficulty walking. In most cases, …

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