Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and MS

Patricia Moghames

Exploring Groundbreaking MS Research: Introducing BEHIND-MS and EBV-MS Projects

(Orginigal article in English, auto-translated with Microsoft Translator in other languages)

At the European Multiple Sclerosis Platform (EMSP), we're committed to keeping our community informed about the latest advancements in Multiple Sclerosis (MS) research. 

Today, we're excited to introduce two pivotal projects that promise to revolutionise our understanding and treatment of MS: BEHIND-MS and EBV-MS.

These two initiatives delve into the crucial relationship between the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and MS, aiming to uncover new insights and therapeutic strategies, especially that recent discoveries have identified EBV infection as a significant risk factor for developing MS. Even though MS is the most prevalent neuroinflammatory disease, yet many questions remain unanswered, making BEHIND-MS and EBV-MS two very timely research projects in the world of MS. The research projects started in December 2023, spanning for 5 years.

BEHIND-MS: Mapping the Path from EBV to MS

The BEHIND-MS project, led by the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), seeks to unravel how EBV triggers MS development. This EU-funded initiative brings together a multidisciplinary team of experts to create a comprehensive map of EBV-immune system interactions in MS patients.

Key Research Areas:
  • Examining interactions: BEHIND-MS will study the blood, brain, and immune system of MS patients to understand how these interactions lead to nerve damage, especially in genetically susceptible individuals.
  • Innovative models: The project will develop laboratory and animal models to simulate MS and study the early signs of the disease, providing new avenues for treatment testing.
  • Clinical impact: The knowledge gained will empower healthcare systems to enhance MS management, with a focus on identifying biomarkers for better diagnosis, prevention, and treatment strategies.
EMSP's role within the BEHIND-MS consortium: 

EMSP is leading on the communications and dissemination work package, ensuring that updates and progress of the research, as well as its findings are widely communicated.

EMSP will communicate the research updates with its members organisations, young people’s network as well as MS Nursing community (through MS Nurse PRO).

EMSP will also aim to bring the MS community with the researchers through hosting discussions to bridge the gap between researchers and the MS community, allowing young people with MS, MS representatives and MS nurses to raise their questions with the researchers.

EMSP will also lead on all communication efforts, including developing brochures, videos, and communication material that will make updates and findings of BEHIND-MS more accessible to the wider MS community.

You can check the BEHIND-MS website here to stay informed about its progress.


Photo from the BEHIND-MS online kick-off meeting in March 2024.

EBV-MS: Targeting EBV in MS Progression

Building on the groundbreaking 2022 research published in Science, which established a strong link between EBV infection and MS, the EBV-MS project seeks to delve deeper into this connection. Led by the University of Bergen, this EU-funded initiative involves leading universities and hospitals across Europe and the USA.

Key Research Areas:
  • Clinical Trials: EBV-MS will conduct trials of antiviral therapies targeting EBV in MS patients to evaluate their efficacy in improving disease outcomes.
  • Mechanistic Studies: The project will investigate the genetic and immunological factors that determine why only some EBV-infected individuals develop MS, aiming to identify potential preventive strategies.
  • Immune Signatures: Researchers will analyse immune cell signatures in MS patients to identify those at higher risk of disease progression, paving the way for targeted interventions.
EMSP's role within the EBV-MS consortium: 

EMSP will engage its MS Community Advisory Board to engage and involve expert patients in the design of the clinical trial protocols and ensure patient perspectives are included within EBV-MS.

EMSP will also co-lead on the communication and dissemination efforts, alongside UiB, and will ensure that project progress and findings are communicated with people with MS and MS associations.

EMSP will also aim to bring young people with MS, MS Nursing community and MS member organisations together with the researchers through online discussions. EMSP will also lead on developing policy briefs and recommendations to influence decision-makers.

A social campaign will be launched to raise awareness about the findings and their implications for MS patients and healthcare professionals.

Check the EBV-MS website and learn more about the project.

Subscribe to the project’s newsletter. 

Photo of the EBV-MS in-person kick-off meeting in January 2024.

Photo of the EBV-MS in-person kick-off meeting in January 2024.

Why these projects matter to EMSP and MS Nurse PRO?

These innovative projects represent a significant step forward in our understanding and management of MS. By exploring the role of EBV in MS, BEHIND-MS and EBV-MS aim to uncover new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches, bringing hope to people with MS and the MS community as a whole. As EMSP, we aim to keep healthcare professionals, especially MS nurses, engaged and updated in these projects. Please stay tuned for more updates as these projects progress, and thank you for your continued dedication to improving the lives of people with MS!

How we fund these projects?

The BEHIND-MS project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe Research and Innovation Actions under grant no. 101137235 (BEHIND-MS).

The EBV-MS project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe Research and Innovation Actions under grant no. 101136991 (EBV-MS).

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