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The Doctors discuss a new study in the scientific journal, Nature Genetics, that Dermatologist Dr. Sonia Batra calls “jaw-dropping.” The study found that the virus that causes mononucleosis, Epstein Bar Virus or EBV, may also increase the risk of developing seven other major diseases: lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, and type 1 diabetes. These diseases affect nearly eight million people combined.
Dr. Batra explains that 90% of the population has actually been infected with EBV yet most of the time it can remain dormant in the system. The most common disease that develops from EBV is mono, which will affect 1 in 4 people who have the virus. Dr. Batra explains that the proteins from EBV have transcription factors, which are like cellular switches that turn on and off genes that allow us to express proteins in the body. This study found there is a link between the protein transcription factors from EPV to turn on and off the genes that are implicated in all of these autoimmune conditions previously mentioned.
Prior to this study, Dr. Batra says people didn’t know exactly what the triggers were for these autoimmune diseases. This actually shows that these proteins from EBV may be turning on those genes for autoimmunity. She says this even plays out for certain types of prostate and breast cancer as well.
Dr. Batra advises people that come in contact with someone who has mono to be very careful since the disease is transmitted through saliva.
The Doctors hope with this new knowledge a potential vaccine for EBV may be on the market in the future or a medication that will shut down the replication of the virus.