Researchers Have a New Theory About What May Cause Multiple Sclerosis

Cathy Chester avatar

by Cathy Chester |

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When the following headline in the Australian newspaper the Herald Sun caught my eye recently, I was cautiously intrigued:

“Doctors believe they have discovered the cause of multiple sclerosis”

My cynical heart didn’t go pitter-patter as it once would have. Over the past three decades, I’ve become more or less immune to sensational headlines about MS. I’ve read my fair share of articles promising a cure or coming up with a groundbreaking theory. I’ve heard about too many scam artists touting their snake oil to unsuspecting patients. But this article was different.

Apparently, scientists from Harvard University and the University of Glasgow are suggesting that exposure to two common infections — threadworms, a common infection in children that infects the gut, and then the Epstein-Barr virus — may be the cause of MS.

According to Dr. Patrick Kearns of Harvard University, who led the research, “First, when the body is exposed to threadworm infection it produces an immune response and ‘memory’ white blood cells are created and live in the immune system that could fight off the infection again. Next, if someone is exposed to the Epstein-Barr virus, even after they recover from the illness, the virus hides in the white blood cells.” These memory cells start attacking similar cells in the body, Kearns explained, according to the Herald Sun.

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We already know that the Epstein-Barr virus causes other illnesses such as cancer, and this sounds like a promising area for further studies.

Kearns goes on to suggest that public officials should work on treating the worms in the general population, and more importantly find a vaccine or drug to fight off the Epstein-Barr virus. (The research is published in the journal Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders.)

We shall wait and see.

When I was diagnosed in 1986, my neurologist told me, “If they can find a cause they can find a cure.” My parents insisted I get a second opinion of my diagnosis, and after we received the confirmation that I indeed had MS, this highly regarded Manhattan neurologist proclaimed, “There will probably be a cure in five years.” This was my first taste of dashed hopes for a cure.

I still hold onto hope that a cure will come. As Michael J. Fox said, “Medical science has proven time and again that when the resources are provided, great progress in the treatment, cure, and prevention of disease can occur.” Amen.


Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.




It will be a miracle if the treatment of ms can be found through the abv finding.

Mohammad avatar


i don't want to tell something that may make someone sad but this illness is not something easy to cure and sometimes when u figure out the cause then u figure out "so there is no way to cure this! we can just prevent!!"
ms is very alone!! there are some similar illnesses too, but why brain? and blaa blaaa blaaa wast of time!
i'v got ms too :( but no one except other patients can't understand me they can't understand whats meaning off my brain is trying to do... not do just simple i mean try hard to do very simple tasks :( but why? i didn't deserve it as much as all of us didn't deserve it but i have very good cure for most of us or at least most of us can think some sort of fantasy ! our time is very low we need our full energy and every day we can recognize today our energy is lower.
try to get money as much as u can think big thing about millions of dollar trillions of dollar and find way to gain, remember u don't have time and options every single moment for us is treasure there is no 100% garantie for our tomorrow "can walk tomorrow? what if not? do i want the last thing i do with my leg be push on pedal on taxi? and for 1 hour of my life i just get 100$ as taxi service?" please don't take it bad job is job no different but not for our kind we must have life full of happiness going on trip everywhere why not? just think different because we are different

S. Watkins avatar

S. Watkins

Unfortunately in my situation this doesn't give me much hope. To my knowledge I never had either of these viruses. I was in a horrific car accident where I was stopped @ a stop sign & I was rear ended. The cops estimate that the man hit me going 65-70mph!! The cops were REALLY surprised cause I shouldn't have walked away from it but thankfully I did. Yes I did have intense whiplash but things started going really wrong 2-3 months afterwards & a year & 1/2 later I was diagnosed with trauma indused multiple sclerosis. I even did an intense family history search on both sides of my family & I didn't find it in my family's history.In my case I have ruled out every theory about the cause of my MS except for the fact of the intense trauma my body went through from that car accident.THAT was 18 years ago!! Now I'm secondary primary progressive ms who's been on my last treatment option for 4 years. This newest treatment that's on the market comes with WAY TOO MANY INSANE side effects & causes more health problems such as cancer to the worsening of disability!! NO thank you!! I will NOT have a medication pumped into my veins ONLY to hope & pray that I don't end up even worse off trying to get better!!

John Coccia avatar

John Coccia

J Coccia
I was in great health till I was in my car and was hit by another car jumping the RR tracks. The tracks were on top of a steep hill there car landed on my car after one year of never getting better at PH I had a spinal and was diagnosed with trauma induced M.S., I have tried many drugs over the years. Now I am on OCREVUS INFUSIN every six months. Seems to be a good thing so far no side affects so far. Don't rule out things like Acupuncture that will help to fire muscles it has been working great for my leg

Tracy avatar


Good for you. Eat as healthy as you can and lots of vitamin D. Lots of people are talking about the wahls protocol under Ted talks.

Jennifer E. Michaels avatar

Jennifer E. Michaels

I had the exact same accident, S. Watkins! I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia by every doctor I saw until one finally told me I had MS in 1994. I do have Epstein Barr virus. Apparently the trauma plus the virus is a bad combination.

Dolly avatar


Same story here. Terrible auto accident in college and have been diagnosed with having Epstein Barr virus. I began having MS symptoms in my late 20's (which I was not diagnosed with)....but was diagnosed with fibromyalgia when I was in my late 40's. I have gone decades believing that I had fibromyalgia and just "had to live with it". This past 10 years has been extremely stressful for me, as I was the only Caretaker for my elderly mother who had Alzheimer's. The stress was compounded by losing her in March. Since then, all my ugly symptoms (plus more) have been exaggerated. I believe that I have MS and have been wrongly diagnosed all of these years. I am now 70! I have an appt with a neurologist Oct 29th (couldn't get in any sooner). Fortunately, it won't be a shock to me (perhaps like newly diagnosed MS patients), as I believe I have had it for a majority of my life, but didn't know it (thinking it was fibromyalgia). I have been hearing more and more about people having MS go incorrectly or undiagnosed for decades. It is sad.

malak avatar


what happened with you then? what did the dr say to you?

Stephen Floyd avatar

Stephen Floyd

Whats the newest treatment your referring too thats so bad? Thanks

Tracy avatar


I have MS and two of my sisters. One deceased with the disease. I was the one who had been hospitalized with Epstein Bar virus. It had got in my liver and kidneys and heart, I was 14 years old

sue avatar


have you ever had an upright MRI to see if you have cervical instability? it is possible you have pressure on the brain stem. this can cause all kinds of problems, even with the immune system

Amy Scott avatar

Amy Scott

“There will probably be a cure in five years.” I laughed out loud at that statement. I've heard the same thing so many times. Thanks for a great article!

Jojo avatar


I never had threadworms, not even the epstein barr virus, but I am a carrier of the epstein barr virus in my blood. As a child I have been sick a lot but I had angina (throat infections) Several times a year so they have taken my almonds away

itasara avatar


Until I read this article today, and I read a lot of articles about MS, I never heard of threadworms. What are they? Far as I know I never had Epstein-Barr syndrome I did have Mononucleosis in college which I’ve heard may be related and I also had something called Erythema
nodosome I think in the same year that I came down with mono. Other than that I felt well until 57 when I had transverse myelitis and diagnosed with
MS. 3 yrs prior to my dx one of my children at age 20 was dx’d with MS. Other than that no other family members in the past generations that I know I’ve had MS.

Gary englerth avatar

Gary englerth

Shows promise, needs study then FDA scrutinize ? 15-20 years out . After 35+ years battling I’ll never see the results??

Jeremy Thielen avatar

Jeremy Thielen

I have never had either one & was very healthy all my life till M/S.

Kim Galasso avatar

Kim Galasso

Very interesting. I had worms when I was a child and mononucleosis when I was a teenager. I am 63, and was diagnosed with MS in 2002. My question is, if these viruses/ infections are in fact the cause of MS, then how will there ever be a cure if there is no cure for the viruses?

itasara avatar


Also many people have Epstein Barr virus that don’t get MS and maybe threadworms but I know nothing about those. There are so I’ve heard many influences that have to come together in such a way before MS shows up so I think it’s more complicated ...

Jack C. avatar

Jack C.

It is my belief that EBV is simply the systemic stressing event that sets off the inflammatory cascade that is multiple sclerosis. We have found the initiator of the inflammatory cascade at MS disease inception.

RD avatar


Super interesting about the Epstein-Barr virus I read up on E-B virus and now wonder about current data in treating ms like they do chronic cases of E-B with bone marrow transplantation and peripheral blood stem cell transplantation?

Yvonne Donegan avatar

Yvonne Donegan

Hi well my story is I was expecting twins and during my pregnancy I was loosen weight and had high blood pressure for yrs. So after my babies were born i done nothing but sleep. Continued to loose weight and started tripping and falling was scary lost 8 stone with stress and depression not knowing what was going on waited 5 yrs to find out. An answer I now have secondary progressive relapsing ms. On my fourth trial of drugs as I have the JC virus as many know we r limited to what we are able to take.


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