Editor's Note: This is the second of two articles on the difficulties of proving that a virus contributes to a disease. The first article, on mouse mammary tumor virus and human breast cancer, appeared in the April 17 issue of The Scientist.1

Donald R. Carrigan and Konstance K. Knox
Someone once said that if you want to ruin your reputation, go into MS [multiple sclerosis] research, quips Jacqueline E. Friedman, a senior research associate at Rockefeller University. But Friedman, who deals with the disease as both a clinician and a scientist, isn't just being flippant. She notes the complexity of MS and how it "may actually be different diseases all lumped together."

In MS, certain neurons in the central nervous system lose their myelin sheaths, which are made by glial cells known as oligodendrocytes. Typically diagnosed as a person turns 30, MS afflicts an estimated 300,000 Americans....

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