Targeting Epstein–Barr virus in multiple sclerosis – an interview with Michael Pender

At the recent American Academy of Neurology’s Annual Meeting (Boston, MA, USA, 22–28 April 2017), Michael Pender (University of Queensland, Australia) presented  promising interim findings from a Phase 1 study investigating a novel treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS), which targets the relationship between this neurodegenerative disease and  Epstein–Barr virus.

In this interview, carried out by our sister-site Neuro Central, Dr Pender discusses the relationship between MS and the Epstein–Barr virus; a link that has been observed in recent studies, and which forms the basis of this most recent clinical trial. In the Phase I study, researchers removed the T cells from six patients with progressive MS, stimulated the T cells to increase their ability to recognize and destroy Epstein–Barr virus-infected B cells, and the injected these T cells in infusions every 2 weeks over a 6-week period. At this interim point, three participants have showed improvement, with one showing “striking improvement”. In the interview, Dr Pender, lead researcher of the trial, discusses the key findings of the trial, and the next steps following these exciting developments.

You can find further information on the relationship between MS and Epstein-Barr virus in the publications below:



  1. This is all very good information and very promising but I would love to know how far away we are from the implementation of treatment and who to contact

    • Hi Denise, You can view Michael’s paper ‘ Defective T-cell control of Epstein-Barr virus infection in multiple sclerosis.’ in Clinical Tranlastional Immunology here: And I’m sure Michael, as the corresponding author of this paper, would be more than happy to give his thoughts on how close we might be to clinical use and any other questions.

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