Researchers Discover
Herpes Virus in MS Patients
By Jim Chilsen
AP Writer

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Researchers have found a form of the herpes virus in the brains of people suffering from multiple sclerosis, which may eventually provide evidence that it causes the debilitating disease.
Human herpes virus-6 was found in the brains of eight of 11 MS patients studied by scientists at the Institute for Viral Pathogenesis in Milwaukee. The virus was also found in the blood of 14 of 25 patients.
The findings confirm a study published last December.
Scientists have long suspected a virus triggers MS, which prompts the immune system to attack nerve fibers, causing paralysis and death.
If further study confirms the virus as the cause, the finding could lead to new treatments for a disease that affects more than 300,000 people in the United States.
The study was presented Tuesday at conference of the American Neurological Association in Montreal.
Dr. Robert Lisak, co-director of the Multiple Sclerosis Clinical and Research Center at the Detroit Medical Center, said the study doesn't convince him that the virus is solely to blame for MS. Past studies have been unable to confirm that, he said.
"It would be nice if this were true. I'm not saying it can't be," Lisak said. "More study needs to be done."
People often carry the herpes virus-6 and many other types of viruses and bacteria, and MS may have multiple causes, he said.
Donald Carrigan, a co-author of the study, acknowledged that further research is needed but noted that the virus was present only in brain areas actively damaged by MS.