EBV or Epstein-Barr virus is an extremely common virus that 95% of adults have without knowing it. Once you have EBV, it results in a lifelong infection that has little to no symptoms. Most contract EBV as infants and have very little, if any illness, but if a person catches EBV as an adolescent, 50% of the time it results in “Mono” or infectious mononucleosis. The lifelong infection of EBV is usually benign but later in life it has been linked to Burkitt’s or Hodgkin’s lymphoma or nasopharyngeal carcinoma.
In order for EBV to exist in our body, it has to evade our immune system. Researchers have recently found one of the ways that EBV does this. Scientists at the British Columbia Children’s Hospital have discovered that EBV can make itself invisible by turning off certain proteins and hiding from key parts of our immune system. With this new understanding of EBV, there may be hope of a vaccine that would decrease the likelihood of certain cancers and mononucleosis.
Original article in Blood