Ryan FP. Human endogenous retroviruses in multiple sclerosis: potential for novel neuro-pharmacological research. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2011 Jun;9(2):360-9.
There is growing evidence that the envelope (env) genes of two or more human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs)* of the W family are contributing to the inflammatory processes, and thus to the pathogenesis, of MS.
* "HERVs are retroviruses that have been integrated into our genome and either remain dormant or can be activated. A good analogy is a computer virus that is only activate when a particular file is opened."
Increasing understanding of the human endogenous retroviral locus (position in the genome), ERVWE1, and the putative MS-associated retrovirus, or MSRV, and in particular of the HERV-W env sequences associated with these, offers the potential of new lines of pharmacological research that might assist diagnosis, prognosis and therapy of MS.
"Wouldn't it be marvellous if MS responded to antivirals targeting HERVs? Why not?"
"I don't normally highlight reviews or hypothesis papers, but this an area we should watch. The data surrounding HERVs and MS is very interesting and cannot be ignored. It may also explain some of the biology of EBV; EBV is the click that opens the HERV file. EBV and other herpes viruses transactivate HERVs; in other words they activate them from being dormant to becoming active. Some of the HERV gene products may play a role in the pathogenesis of MS."