Elucidating Associations Between EBV and MS: Jakob Dupont, MD


The global head of research and development at Atara Biotherapeutics discussed the link between EBV and MS.

“Over the course of the last 5 years, the data for this relationship between Epstein Barr Virus and multiple sclerosis has become stronger and stronger. I would say that's from academic groups working on this question of the relationship between EBV and MS, but also some of the work that we've generated in the clinic with our physicians and patient collaborators to determine whether or not an EBV-directed therapy can make a real difference for patients with MS.”

The relationship between multiple sclerosis (MS) and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) has been further elucidated thanks to a recent publication in Science.1 The paper revealed the high prevalence of EBV infections associated with MS, and another paper published soon after in Nature proposed a possible mechanism of how EBV could lead to MS.2

The findings may inform new research and therapeutic development in the area – a focus that is already the mission of Atara Biotherapeutics, which has been investigating their cell therapy candidate ATA188 for the potential treatment of MS. The candidate is currently being evaluated in the phase 2 EMBOLD study (NCT03283826) and has produced positive data in its phase 1 study and open-label extension.3

CGTLive spoke with Jakob Dupont, MD, global head, research and development, Atara, to learn more about the studies elucidating the relationship between EBV and MS. He discussed other work that Atara and academic institutions have previously done that has led up to this discovery.

1. Bjornevik K, Cortese M, Healy BC, et al. Longitudinal analysis reveals high prevalence of Epstein-Barr virus associated with multiple sclerosis. Science. 2022; 375(6578): 296-301. doi:10.1126/science.abj8222
2. Lanz TV, Brewer RC, Ho PP, et al. Clonally expanded B cells in multiple sclerosis bind EBV EBNA1 and GlialCAM. Nature. Published online January 24, 2022. doi:10.1038/s41586-022-04432-7
3. Atara Biotherapeutics presents new magnetization transfer ratio imaging data and two-year clinical data from the open label extension of ATA188 for progressive multiple sclerosis at ECTRIMS 2021. News release. Atara Biotherapeutics. October 13, 2021. https://investors.atarabio.com/news-events/press-releases/detail/248/atara-biotherapeutics-presents-new-magnetization-transfer
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