MS news notes: Biomarkers, cow’s milk, EBV vaccine

Columnist Ed Tobias comments on the week's top MS news

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by Ed Tobias |

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Welcome to “MS News Notes,” a column where I comment on multiple sclerosis (MS) news stories that caught my eye last week. Here’s a look at what’s been happening:

Is it MS or something else?

Should all autoimmune diseases that damage myelin be called MS? Probably not, according to research in the MS News Today story “Biomarker found for potential new disorder that’s been labeled as MS.”

The story reports that about 1% of MS patients, and 6% of those with a related demyelinating condition called neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder, contain a specific biomarker. This may indicate that some people who were diagnosed with MS may be ill with a disease that resembles MS but is something else.

A researcher quoted in this story says that “by distinguishing between myelin-destroying autoimmune diseases that were previously all called MS, we’re taking an important step towards a better understanding of the causes of these illnesses and towards individualized treatments.”

Perhaps the biomarkers these researchers are studying will lead to understanding why various treatments affect people with MS differently and provide a way to target disease-modifying therapies more accurately.

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Cow’s milk and MS

Researchers have reported links between diet and MS for years. The story “Cow milk proteins likely trigger of broader immune response with MS” reports that almond and other plant-based milks don’t appear to trigger this same response.

The study suggests it might be possible to use a blood test to see if someone with MS carries milk-related antibodies. Doing this could allow a personalized diet to be created that might reduce some inflammatory responses that trigger MS.

After many years of not caring about my diet, I’ve been trying to eat healthier meals. Is it helping me after more than 40 years of living with MS? The jury is still out on that.

More EBV research

A number of research projects are currently searching for a vaccine that would inoculate people against the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). They’re interesting to people with MS because of the link between EBV and MS. The hope is that if EBV can be prevented, so can MS.

Most people are infected with EBV at some point in their life, but the virus doesn’t always become active. The story “New EBV-targeted vaccine induces durable immune response in mice” reports that this potential vaccine targets both active and latent forms of the virus. Although this is a mouse study and the potential vaccine is still early in the testing process, the data “clearly demonstrate” that the vaccine being tested can generate immunity to EBV that’s both robust and persistent, researchers wrote.

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, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Pat avatar


I e had MS for a very long time and drink milk and eat icecream. I’m 74 and have all sorts of issues. Do you think stopping daily would help me?

Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Pat,

I'm 75 and have had MS 43 years. Although I'm not a big milk drinker, I love my ice cream. I doubt a diet change would do much to help either of us as far as our MS is concerned. But eating healthy meals seems to be a good idea no matter how old we are or how advanced our MS is.




Hi Ed
Ed here from Kensigton Md
M.S. member for 33 year's.
61 years old.6'-3" and drink skim milk everyday.
Walker and scooter to get around now.
Maybe I will switch to almond milk now.
Just got back from our vacation in Alaska.We went for one week on Holland cruise lines.
My wife and I tested positive for covid.She works full time and proticall for testing positive is 5 day's,she worked from home.
My temp. spiked for one day.Had problems getting around the cabin.Did not go to shore that day and stayed on the ship..
Holland ship has the best handicap bathrooms hands down..I'm going to incorperate there design in my bathroom.

Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Ed,

Thanks for your note. I'm also in Montgomery County, but just five months of the year. I escape to Florida the other seven. Also, most of my movement is on my scooter, which went with us on our Alaskan cruise several years ago on Princess. We loved it. Most of our cruises have been on Oceania, which also has excellent handicapped cabins..but very few of them on each ship.

Ed (Two Eds are better than one!)

Tom A avatar

Tom A

Cow’s milk. Now that’s interesting. That’s about all I drank when I was a kid. I stay with the gene theory as the primary cause.

EBV again. Clearly part of the picture, but again, mostly water under the bridge by the time one has MS. And vaccines, as I became aware with covid, do not eradicate infection by 100% but make it more difficult for an infection to get way out of control, and varies in effectiveness from person to person. So how much EBV infection is too much? Can it be stopped in any particular youngster 100%? For everyone else not a youngster, the damage is done. Don’t forget that 1 of 300 people (or something like that) get MS, and 95% of those 300 people have been previously infected with EBV. Do the math.

Not happy comment. :-(

Adrian Sohn avatar

Adrian Sohn

Hi Ed:
I've had MS for about 30 years, initially relapsing remitting now chronic progressive. I was a family physician but retired 5 years ago on my neurologist's advice " you don't remember things like you should Adrian" I didn't want to retire but figured it was better to retire than to go agains his advice . I started on a Dr Terry Wahls paleo diet about 8 years ago , I'd hoped it would improve my MS just like it did hers. It didn't :-( On this diet she had no dairy grains or sugar. I followed it religiously for 1 year and I did lose about 25 lbs on this diet so I stayed with it. Sadly my MS symptoms did not improve like hers did but I liked losing the weight. Now I occasionally have ice cream, sometimes a piece of toast but I just keep on going, what else can I do? I don't drink milk I have a smoothy every morning with loads of kale spinach, coconut milk and some berries

Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Adrian,

It sounds like the doctor is doing just what the doctor ordered. I've heard mixed reviews about the Wahls diet and I don't think anyone should expect a cure from any diet. But some, especially those that reduce sugar, seem to help - especially if they're undertaken early in the course of the illness.

Best of luck,


Angela V. avatar

Angela V.

Recently I was diagnosed with MS, and I am 34 years old. I get around just fine, but I'm very close to disability; multiple lesions in my brain and spine. Immediately I adapted an Anti-Inflammatory Diet; no dairy, no gluten, no sugar, and no nightshade vegetables. It is difficult, but I have found that it helps tremendously. Dairy specifically - makes my symptoms worse - I would suggest cutting it out entirely for awhile; journal/note changes and any progress.

Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Angela,

What you've discovered about dairy seems to confirm what this research reports about cow's milk. I'm glad that changing your diet has help you, even though it's been tough.


Abdullah Bamaas avatar

Abdullah Bamaas

I am Abdullah Baamas. I have been suffering from multiple sclerosis for ten years, and now I take treatment for it every six months, a dose. The attacks stopped, but my right leg is still heavy and I can't walk quickly. Is there any treatment to revitalize my right leg. Please help me with that, thanks
Abdullah Bamaes


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