Is there a vaccine I could take to avoid Mono? Not yet, but Clinical Virology Programs is working hard to make such a vaccine available. The vaccine we’re researching is designed to prevent Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection because EBV is the major cause of Mono. Please stay in touch. Progress on this program will be posted as soon as we can.
Clinical Virology Programs has just published a study showing “that presence of antibodies for EBV, CMV, or HSV-1 increased the odds of having antibody against one of the other viruses.” EBV, which stands for Epstein-Barr virus, causes Mono but also is responsible for some cancers and autoimmune diseases. Cytomegalovirus (CMV) can cause birth defects and may complicate organ transplantation. Herpes simplex type 1 (HSV-1) causes cold sores but is also implicated in eye disease and newborn infections. The subjects studied were 6 to 19 year-old participants in the CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, 2003-2004 cycle. One consequence of these findings is that “a uniform policy would be to vaccinate all children with herpesvirus vaccines when fairly young.” Vaccines are currently in development for all three of these human herpesviruses. The lead author of the study, Amanda Delaney, is now a medical student at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison, WI.
Citation: Delaney AS, Thomas W, Balfour HH Jr. Co-Prevalence of Epstein-Barr virus, cytomegalovirus, and herpes simplex virus type-1 antibodies among United States children and factors associated with their acquisition. J Ped Infect Dis 2014. DOI 10.1093/jpids/piu076
Clinical Virology Programs in collaboration with researchers at HealthPartners just published a research report showing a racial/ethnic disparity in the age at which Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is first caught. Children ages 18 months to 19.9 years in the greater Twin Cities metropolitan area were studied. Overall, non-Hispanic white children had a prevalence of EBV antibody of 26% versus 74% for non-Hispanic black children. The antibody prevalence in other groups was: Asian children, 62%; multiracial children, 54%; and Hispanic children, 50%. The report concluded, “Racial/ethnic differences in EBV antibody prevalence and concordance of antibody status among siblings prompt us to speculate that both genetics and family environment contribute to acquisition of EBV infection. The ideal age to give a prophylactic vaccine may differ according race/ethnicity. How pre-adolescent children acquire EBV is an important area for future research. Identifying and ameliorating those factors responsible for early infection may be an important public health step in disease prevention. Finally, our data indicate that early age of primary EBV infection among racial/ethnic groups other than non-Hispanic whites is a health disparity that should be addressed.”
Reference: Condon LM, Cederberg LE, Rabinovitch MD, Liebo R, Go JC, Delaney, AS, Schmeling DO, Thomas W, Balfour HH Jr. Age-Specific prevalence of Epstein-Barr virus infection among Minnesota children: effects of race/ethnicity and family environment. Clin Infect Dis 2014. DOI 10.1093/cid/ciu342
The University of Minnesota Foundation has created a direct link for giving to our research program, the University of Minnesota International Center for Antiviral Research and Epidemiology. All gifts are greatly appreciated and will help us fight viral diseases especially those caused by the mono virus, Epstein-Barr (EBV). We also have research designed to conquer multiple sclerosis (MS). EBV is a major environmental factor for contracting MS. Thanks to all of you who read this and consider making a gift to support our research.
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Happy Holidays from all of us at I CARE!
How do young children acquire the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) also known as the Mono virus? We don’t know. That’s why we’re doing a study in a Child Development Center as part of an Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program grant awarded to Emma Filtz, a member of our research team. The first step will be to learn if we can recover EBV from the throat swabs or oral washings of about 30 toddlers. If we are successful, we will expand the study to include many more subjects in several centers to explore family and environmental factors that may be associated with transmission of EBV.
Clinical Virology Programs in collaboration with the Department of Neurology is investigating why Epstein-Barr virus (the Mono virus) is a major environmental risk factor for acquisition of multiple sclerosis (MS). Our hypothesis is that MS patients have abnormal immune defenses against Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), which either permit the virus to attack the central nervous system or encourage the body to attack itself. A pilot study looking at early relapsing-remitting MS subjects has just been approved by University of Minnesota Research Subjects Protection Program and is opening to enrollment.
Clinical Virology Programs in concert with the Department of Neurology will be conducting a study whose hypothesis is that abnormal immune responses to Epstein-Barr virus infection increase susceptibility to and severity of MS. Stay tuned for detailed information on this research. A cross-sectional study is planned to launch as early as August 1, 2013.
The prospective study of primary EBV infection in freshmen students ended its clinic visit phase on June 27, 2013. Overall, 87 students made 1,338 visits to the Clinical Virology Research Clinic between September 2012 and June 2013. There were 16 cases of primary EBV infection; 14 were mono, 1 subject was symptomatic but didn’t meet the criteria for a clinical mono diagnosis, and 1 student was completely asymptomatic. A great big thanks to those who participated and made it possible to achieve our goal: collection of samples during the incubation period of mono. These samples should prove very valuable as we attempt to define early immune responses that govern severity of illness.
Congratulations to Emma Filtz and Jenn Grimm who were recently awarded UROP grants. Emma will be studying the shedding of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) in the daycare setting. Jenn will be using line immunoblot technology to investigate evolution of EBV-specific antibodies during the incubation period of primary EBV infection. We are very proud of our undergraduate research students!
Dr. Balfour gave an invited talk about monitoring Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infections after hematopoietic cell transplantation at the 39th annual meeting of the European Group for Blood and Marrow Transplantation on April 8, 2013 in London. He suggested whom to monitor, for how long, and what the threshold for intervention should be. At the same session, monitoring of cytomegalovirus and aspergillus infections were also discussed.