Hot topic: a new animal model of MS trumps all others and supports the viral causation hypothesis of MS

Axthelm  et al. Japanese macaque encephalomyelitis: A spontaneous multiple sclerosis-like disease in a nonhuman primate. Ann Neurol. 2011 Apr 7. doi: 10.1002/ana.22449. [Epub ahead of print]

Japanese macaque encephalomyelitis (JME) is a spontaneous inflammatory demyelinating disease occurring a colony of Japanese macaques. This JM colony was established in 1965 and no cases of JME occurred until 1986. Since 1986, 57 JMs spontaneously developed a disease characterized clinically by paresis or weakness of one or more limbs, unsteadiness of gait, or weakness of eye movements. Most affected animals were humanely euthanised during their initial episode. However, three recovered, later relapsed, and were then euthanised. MRI of 8 cases of JME revealed multiple gadolinium-enhancing (inflamed) lesions in the white matter of the brain and cervical spinal cord. The pathology contained multiple plaque-like demyelinated lesions of varying ages, including acute and chronic, active demyelinating lesions with macrophages (scavenger cells) and lymphocytic infiltrates around veins, and chronic, inactive demyelinated lesions. A previously undescribed gamma-herpesvirus was cultured from acute JME white matter lesions. Cases of JME continue to affect 1% to 3% of the colony per year. Interpretation: JME is a unique spontaneous disease in a nonhuman primate that has similarities with multiple sclerosis (MS) and is associated with a novel simian herpesvirus.

“One of the criteria for causation is reasoning by analogy. A spontaneous relapsing MS-like disease in a non-human primate with MRI and pathological features similar to MS ticks this box. I am still in the camp that thinks MS is due to an infection; EBV. Interestingly, EBV is a human gamma herpesvirus. Any supporters out there?”

2 thoughts on “Hot topic: a new animal model of MS trumps all others and supports the viral causation hypothesis of MS”

  1. Thanks for posting – this is interesting – surely all this work is helping to complete the jigsaw puzzle that is MS – or is it making the picture on the front of the box a bit bigger?

  2. Prof G, let’s say you’re right and EBV does cause MS. What will that mean for MS’ers? Furthermore, EBV is a virus, but what about the genes and reduced vitamin D that are attributed to MS causation? What will this mean?My big question is, is this theory of MS being a viral occurrence actually gaining traction? I’m convinced by your argument only because I have a habit of believing most of your theories regarding MS, but how are your peers reacting? Do they think you’re actually on to something or are they sniggering behind your back?I think you should take your theory to the BBC. Have them report on it on their website. Take it to The Guardian too. It will keep MS research in the news and maybe philanthropists will be encouraged to invest in your research. Whatever happens at least it'll be some news other than talking about the right to die, which makes for a bummer summer for anyone with MS.

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