On June 15th, MS researchXchange held our second Live event, featuring Jessica Allanach and Dr. Marc Horwitz of the University of British Columbia. They presented their work generating a novel humanized mouse model to study the role of EBV in MS. The Event was moderated by our editorial director, Dr. Mike Racke, and included an engaging Q&A session after the talk.

To get around the fact that EBV cannot infect mice, the authors placed immune cells from human donors, some with an EBV infection history, into immunodeficient mice. Some key points from their presentation:

  • Immune cells from EBV+ donors, but not EBV- donors, without MS behave similarly to cells from patients with MS
  • EBV does not appear to reactivate to induce MS-like symptoms
  • Differences in T-cell responses drive the elevated autoimmune response seen when using EBV+ donors
  • Humanized mice represent a critical tool for understanding how the immune system (mal)functions in MS

You can find the full presentation slide deck here, as well as a full recording of the talk and discussion here.

Our presenters were not the only source of thoughtful comments. The Q&A portion featured a lively discussion featuring our moderator and Dr. Steve Jacobson, Chief of the Viral Immunology Section of the NIH. Be sure to stay tuned to hear their thoughts on EBV’s role in MS and how we should approach tackling EBV in the name of MS treatment & prevention.

We also have done very similar work to the Science paper – in fact, it’s not simply just EBV. We can find other viruses as well, using the exact same platform, and in other antigen-specific diseases, we can show the involvement of EBV. So it’s not quite a slam dunk.

-Dr. Steve Jacobson.

Watch this feed to read our forthcoming interview with the presenters, where we gain greater insight into their work and how EBV fits into MS pathology.