To date, the search for the cause and the cure of MS has not been established.
It is known that all diseases are caused by something. Scientists have grouped the causes of human disease into eleven categories: allergy, congenital, degenerative, heredity, infection, metabolic, psychogenic, toxic, trauma, tumors and vascular. Every category has been examined as a cause of MS; and, researchers have been able to eliminate most of these categories as the possible culprit behind MS.
The most probable cause of MS is considered to be an infection at an early age that remains dormant and, later on, causes an autoimmune response. It is thought that an infection, which might be viral, starts the process and the autoimmune response perpetuates the condition.
Many viruses, both common and rare, have been explored in some research studies to be the one that causes MS. A prime suspect is the human herpes virus 6 (HHV-6), which causes the common infant disease roseola.
Two other infections are also being considered in research studies as a link to the development of MS:
- Chlamydia pneumoniae is a bacterium associated with the occurrence of walking pneumonia; and
- researchers have identified a link between higher levels of antibodies marshaled by the immune system to battle the Epstein-Barr virus and the eventual development of MS. (More research is needed before this link can be proven.)
Although the cause of MS remains unknown, the focus is on the possibility that viral or bacterial infections trigger the process.
Blackstone, Margaret. The First Year – Multiple Sclerosis: An Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed. New York: Marlowe & Company, 2003.
Nichols, Judith Lynn. Women Living with Multiple Sclerosis. California: Hunter House, Inc. Publishers, 1999.
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society: Lone Star. Texas.