Cytomegalovirus and Epstein-Barr Virus Associations with Neurological Diseases and the Need for Vaccine Development.

Herpesviruses have been isolated from a wide range of hosts including humans-for which, nine species have been designated. The human herpesviruses are highly host adapted and possess the capacity for latency, allowing them to survive in the host for life, effectively hidden from the immune system. This ability of human herpesviruses to modulate the host immune response poses particular challenges for vaccine development but at the same time proves attractive for the application of human herpesvirus vaccines to certain spheres of medicine.

There is an association between Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection and multiple sclerosis (MS) or EBV-associated malignancies. An effective EBV vaccine that could prevent the 200,000 new EBV-associated malignancies which occur globally each year is not currently available. There is increasing interest in developing EBV vaccines to prevent MS and, in view of the association of infectious mononucleosis with MS, reducing childhood infectious mononucleosis is a potential intervention. Currently, there is no licensed EBV vaccine and, in order to progress the development of EBV vaccines for preventing MS, a greater understanding of the association of EBV with MS is required.