Media Reports of HV-6 & MS

National media attention has been drawn to the possible role that Human Herpes Virus-6 (HHV-6) may play in MS:

  • National MS Society - sponsored investigators at the Univ of Wisconsin (Milwaukee) have reported new findings of evidence of HHV-6 in the Blood, Immune Tissues and Brain Cells in a small number of individuals who had MS.

  • Although this is one of several reports over the course of several years suggesting a possible link between HHV-6 and MS, there is currently NOT enough evidence to say that HHV-6 is a causal factor in MS.

  • Clinical trials of HHV-6-fighting agents are currently underway or in planning stages. At present, there is no documented evidence that HHV-6-fighting agents can help people who have MS.

  • Although this small study adds to current evidence that MS may be triggered by a Viral infection, there is currently insufficient evidence that HHV-6, or any other virus, triggers MS.

Further research is ongoing.

Details: National media attention has been drawn to National Multiple Sclerosis Society - sponsored research on the possible role that Human Herpes Virus-6 (HHV-6) may play in MS.

Over the past 3 years, investigators from several laboratories have gathered evidence that HHV-6, a common Virus that causes Roseola in children, to which virtually everyone has been exposed, may be present in MS Brain Lesions and active during disease relapses.

New work, supported by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and reported at the 1998 meeting of the American Neurological Association in Montreal, examined HHV-6 in Central Nervous System and Immune Tissue from autopsy samples of people who had had Clinical Definite MS.

In this small study, Drs. Konstance Knox, Daniel Harrington and Donald Carrigan, from the Univ of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, reported that seven out of 10 subjects had Nervous System Cells that were actively infected by HHV-6.

They also reported that there was significantly greater chance that active Virus would be found in Nervous System Tissue with active DeMyelination, compared to tissue with no active DeMyelination.

Immune Tissues (Lymphoid Tissues) in six of nine individuals who had had MS showed active HHV-6 infection. Three of eight individuals with MS showed evidence of HHV-6 in the Blood.

Compared with tissues from individuals with other diseases, active HHV-6 infection was more commonly found in MS.

Finally, in a single patient followed over time, active HHV-6 infection of Blood Cells tended to be correlated with disease attacks.

This work adds to the evidence that HHV-6 is Associated with MS, but does not demonstrate that HHV-6 is a Cause of MS.

However, because of the association between HHV-6 and MS, clinical trials of AntiViral agents that are effective against this Virus (such as Ganciclovir) are ongoing or in planning stages in the U.S. and abroad.

The media reports included an anecdotal story of one individual undergoing such therapy, with Unsubstantiated claims of benefit.

At this point, there is no evidence that treatment with agents effective against HHV-6 will have a role in treatment of Multiple Sclerosis.

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society is actively funding and following research related to HHV-6 and other viruses in MS, and looks forward to further studies that will indicate whether this or another Virus triggers MS.   1-800-FIGHT MS

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