The Charcot Project-Towards a Cure for MS


Last weekend at the Research Day Prof Gold (Prof G Down Under) from Team G aired his new vision for the treatment of MS, but you will have to wait for the video evidence to appear. As many do not view the blog but get their news by non computer means. I do this post. Is this IG11?, a pipe dream that needs development before it gets off the ground or an alternative view that is worth a shot?


There is increasing evidence to support the hypothesis that multiple sclerosis (MS) is either caused, or triggered, by an infectious agent, probably a virus.

The most compelling evidence points to Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) as there is now overwhelming evidence that infection with EBV is essential to development of MS. Therefore, it appears that it is not possible to have adult MS without having previously been infected with EBV. However, the corollary is not true so having EBV infection does not always lead to MS.

Other factors have also been linked to acquiring MS such as vitamin D deficiency (related to living in the far northern and southern hemispheres), smoking and genetic susceptibility. Each of these factors, taken separately contributes to the risk of acquiring MS, but individually they do not explain the disease and its effect on the immune and neurological systems. Recently, there is interesting evidence that may link some or all of these factors to a recently discovered virus and their influence on it and this may provide a biologically plausible cause for MS.

If true, there is the possibility, of treating MS with targeted anti-viral therapies.

The link between the various risk factors is the discovery of a Human Endogenous Retrovirus (HERV) that is significantly present in patients with MS and not in patients with other neurological conditions or in healthy controls.

HERVs are extremely interesting viruses. Following mapping of the human genome during the past decade, scientists discovered that 8% of our genome is composed of viral DNA. This viral DNA was integrated into our genome at various times over the past 6 to 8 million of years and has been passed down from generation-to-generation as our genes are inheritance by our children.

Most of these viruses are no longer active, but some recent laboratory work in Switzerland, Denmark, the U.K. and the U.S.A. indicates a selected number of these viruses can, in fact, be reactivated and can cause the same myelin and axonal loss that we see in patients with MS.

It has further been observed that EBV can up-regulate (activate) these HERVs, which would help to explain the key role that EBV plays in the pathogenesis of MS. This field of research is very early and is both challenging and exciting.

The field of MS treatment is currently dominated by drug companies who have focused their attention on developing lifelong therapies that target the immune system, without necessarily addressing the possible causes of MS. These therapies are problematic to administer, have considerable side-effects and risks and are expensive and lifelong.

There are drug companies out there that specialise in developments of treatments for infectious diseases but have so far not taken an interest in MS…….so Wakey, Wakey, Wakey

Before progressing with launching The Charcot Project (Jean-Martin Charcot first described Multiple Sclerosis in 1868), we have consulted with some of the world authorities on retroviruses and we believe HERVs should be investigated as a possible cause for MS and could possibly be controlled using treatments currently available for other retroviruses. The most well-known retrovirus is Human Immuno deficicency virus or HIV (which causes AIDS) and while it has little in common with the HERV virus that may cause MS, it is possible that treatments developed and effective for HIV, may benefit patients with MS. These treatments are aimed at controlling retroviruses, by interrupting various stages of the virus life-cycle. and they have proven to be very efficient. We have some anecdotal evidence that HIV anti-retroviral drugs may have benefit in MS.

Is this a fluke? or are they on to something?

AIMS:The Charcot Project will aim to elucidate the direct role of viruses as the trigger and cause of MS and to test available drugs to interrupt the life-cycle of these viruses in order to control MS. In this context ‘control’ is defined as possibly taking a tablet each day that would completely suppress viral activity, with minimal or no potential for disease progression.


If this is seen as a bit of fresh (or hot) air, it has to be seen that it is only the starting point. Some people will embrace this idea and a lot of people will be sceptical. However, we know that many of the sceptics will feel it is worth a shot, because the gains can be so big. For the project to really gain momentum still needs a will for the necessary studies to be resourced and happen. Maybe the Prof Gs are cruising for a brusing as many things have to happen before this is truely off the ground. But you heard about it here first!

There is no evidence that HERVs influence vascular alterations, yet trials are beginning to examine this latter idea, so why not take a punt on this new idea, it would be cheaper to do these studies!.

Many years ago it was thought that stomach ulcers were caused by lifestyle and there was this bonkers bloke who said it was a problem of bacteria. The establishment thought he was a nutter, so he infected himself with the bacteria, got an ucler and then treated himself with anti-biotics…Simples. Today we do not think twice about using anti-biotics for ulcers.

Now here is an interesting tit bit.

How many people with MS also have HIV?, the answer seems to be not very many as far as we can tell.

Historically, it was interesting because HIV used to trigger the development of AIDS that resulted in immunosuppression caused by the virus killing off white blood cells. We know that such type of immunosuppression, that can be sort of replicated with drugs such as Alemtuzumab has been shown to halt some aspects of MS.

These days the virus is kept in check by the development of anti-viral agents, so people do not get Immunosuppressed because of the virus, but there are still are not many reports of MSers with HIV. Is the MS diagnosis missed? Do the drugs that stop HIV, stop the triggers of MS? This is one of the aims of the Charcot Project.

If you have HIV and MS or MS then HIV, Prof Gold ( would love to hear from you, in confidence, as you are his Golddust.

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  • This sounds wonderful! I hope it's a big success and leads to a cure.

    Are there any statistics for people with HIV and active MS?

  • There appears to be very, very few people with both HIV and MS. Not enough for statisitics

    The important thing is the drugs taken to control the virus.

  • Re "but some recent laboratory work in Switzerland, Denmark, the U.K. and the U.S.A. indicates a selected number of these viruses can, in fact, be reactivated and can cause the same myelin and axonal loss that we see in patients with MS."

    Could you supply some links to these studies? Myelin and axonal loss is not confined to MS, so extreme caution should be taken before calling a damage "same". The same kind of "sameness" led to the autoimmune hypothesis.

  • Prof G Down Under who supplied the text does not read the blog and so expect no answers.

    VV-with your attitude nothing will change, but now you have another idea from Team G to critique….

    Maybe you can tell us exactly how many HIV positive MSers you can find in the literature.

    Finally why supply ropes when you twist and knot them and try to hang us…..this is your repeated style. We have got bored with that game and do not want to play, sorry

  • I have spoken to Prof Gold and he has suggested that one needs to do their own homework around the subject before dialogue.

    Maybe the Prof Gs should write a paper with this hypothesis for all to read and crique.

  • It is given, yes. But does it help?

    The efficacy of amantadine in reducing fatigue in people with MS is poorly documented, as well as its tolerability. It is advisable to: (1) improve knowledge on the underlying mechanisms of MS-related fatigue; (2) achieve anagreement on accurate, reliable and responsive outcome measures of fatigue; (3) perform good quality RCTs."

  • Seriously Vasilis Vasilopoulos, your attitude is completely unaaceptable.

    You seem to be well educated in the ways of MS, yet you demonstrate an inability to properly assess scientific theories in a adult manner. All you do is complain and undermine. That's not good Vasilis. That doesn't help you or anyone else.

    You obviously like this blog and you come here to learn. Your frustrations probably stem from being in a bad state of mind: you're getting worse and everything else you've tried, like CCSVI, has not worked out; or at least not worked in the way you were hoping.

    We're all suffering Vasilis, but that doesn't mean you have the right to ruin it for us all by engaging in banter that is not worthwhile. You're rubbing up against people the wrong way. Please stop it.

  • The Clinical Trial to test this drug is continuing. We still need 4 patients to enrol to meet our target. As soon as this happens we will proceed and hopefully finish the first phase towards the autumn this year. It will take some months to do the analysis of all the information we collect and then have the results. At this stage no patient has had any serious problems with the medication. Sorry there isn't more to report, but it is critical that this work is conducted according to the most rigorous and ethical scientific standards.

  • Thanks for answering my question Prof Gold.
    The OH has PPMS so we are following any new research with interest.
    Look forward to the results.

By MouseDoctor



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