Study in monkeys suggests virus may cause multiple sclerosis

A strange disease began killing monkeys at the Oregon National Primate Research Center in 1986. Some animals developed an unsteady gait and a quickly advancing paralysis of the limbs. Caregivers couldn’t do anything to stop the disease and euthanized most of the monkeys within a week of symptom onset.

The disease, researchers now report, is the equivalent of multiple sclerosis in monkeys. And more, it was caused by a virus – adding support to the possibility that multiple sclerosis in humans can be triggered by a virus as well. Experts say the discovery could help expedite the search for more effective treatments.

“That’s the ultimate goal,” said co-author Scott Wong, a scientist at the primate center and Oregon Health & Science University’s Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute.
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