The strange connection between Mono and MS

Denis Burkitt, an Irish surgeon, went to Africa during World War II as a member of the Royal Army Medical Corps, and he later settled in Uganda to practice medicine. There he observed a surprising number of children developing strange tumors in the jaw, a type of cancer that would later be known as Burkitt lymphoma. Finally, Burkitt sent samples of tumor cells to the Middlesex Hospital School of Medicine in London, where Michael Anthony Epstein, a pathologist, and his colleagues Yvonne Barr and Bert Achong examined them through a microscope. electron microscope.

Their findings – they found particles shaped like herpesviruses, only smaller – were published in a landmark paper in the US. The Lancet 1964 and promoted the recognition that this newly identified member of the Herpes viridae family, later named the Epstein-Barr virus, was the cause of Burkitt’s lymphoma. It was the first evidence that viral infections could lead to cancer. The virus has been shown to increase the risk of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, as well as cancers of the throat and stomach. It is also the same virus that commonly causes infectious mononucleosis, an illness often characterized by extreme fatigue, sore throat, fever, and swollen lymph nodes in the neck. These symptoms can last for weeks and, in chronic cases, recur for years.

We now know that up to 90% of adults have the Epstein-Barr virus. As happens with other herpes viruses, once you’re infected, the virus stays with you forever – it deposits its DNA along with yours in the nucleus of many of your cells. (RNA viruses, like SARS-CoV-2, can be cleared from your body.) Most people get Epstein-Barr disease in childhood: It is spread through bodily fluids, usually saliva. ; Kissing is a frequent route of transmission (possibly by sharing utensils). Young children, if they get sick, often develop symptoms that are indistinguishable from a cold or flu; mono is more common when the first infection occurs after puberty. “Most people never know they’re infected,” said Jeffrey Cohen, head of the infectious diseases lab at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The virus enters cells in the back of the throat and from there moves into B cells, a type of white blood cell that makes antibodies. In some B cells, the virus multiplies, producing proteins that the immune system can recognize and subdue. However, in other cells it still doesn’t work. “It’s very stealthy,” Cohen said. Eventually, as those infected B cells circulate throughout the body, they reach the back of the throat again. The virus awakens and begins to produce proteins, which its host sheds, capable of spreading pathogens to others, possibly for several days per month. “The vast majority of people who are infected transmit it,” Cohen said. “It will fall out in our saliva for the rest of our lives.” The strange connection between Mono and MS

Fry Electronics Team

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