The Mono Project : EBV Diseases Research Program

The Mono Project 

Our research is dedicated to learning how Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) causes disease and developing a vaccine against it. 

Mono is an infectious disease caused by EBV, a member of the herpesvirus family. EBV is one of the oldest and most common human viruses, infecting roughly 90% of adults worldwide. To cause mono, EBV spreads most commonly through the exchange of oral fluids. For this reason, mono has been thought of as "the kissing disease," which we recently have proven to be true. 

Besides causing mono, EBV is also a causative agent of several forms of cancer, including Burkitt lymphoma, Hodgkin lymphoma, and nasopharyngeal carcinoma. Additionally, new evidence is supporting the link that EBV plays a role in the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis. EBV is also a risk factor for PTLD in solid organ and hematopoietic cell (bone marrow) transplant patients.

Chronic Mono

Chronic mono follows an EBV infection with two patterns, including continuous illness for weeks, months or years after onset or recovery from the acute illness but lingering or recurring symptoms for years. For advice on managing chronic mono click here to download our treatment suggestions for antiviral drugs and diet. We also have a sheet of suggested herbal therapies. Ideally, all treatments should be followed under the direct supervision of a physician. 

Epstein-Barr Virus Vaccine

Researchers at the Mono Project are currently partnering with industry to develop a vaccine that could potentially prevent EBV-caused diseases, such as infectious mono, EBV-associated diseases, and MS. A vaccine could also potentially prevent severe illness or even death from EBV infection following transplantation, especially in pediatric patients who have not been exposed to the virus and have no immunity to it. Stay tuned for more updates! To be the first to recieve information on the vaccine progress please subscribe to our email list: 

Evidence That Parents Could Be the Source of Primary EBV Infection for Young Children

Our study of EBV DNA in parental oral secretions as a potential source of primary infection for their young children has been accepted for publication in Clinical Infectious Diseases, the top-ranked, peer-reviewed infectious diseases medical journal. We found that 28% of parents with children younger than 8 years old had EBV in their oral secretions, and the prevalence of shedding was higher among non-whites, consistent with the observation that non-white children acquire EBV at a younger age than their white counterparts. We are especially proud that our research paper was accepted WITHOUT REVISIONS!

NK / T Cell Lymphoma Research

Dr. Bartosz Grzywacz in our group is studying NK/T cell lymphomas caused by EBV with a focus on lymphoma pathogenesis. EBV causes various cancers, most commonly B cell lymphomas. The aggressive lymphomas of Natural Killer (NK) and T cells are relatively less frequent and include extranodal NK/T lymphoma, nasal type and aggressive NK/T cell leukemia / lymphoma. These lymphomas are almost always EBV positive and have a very poor prognosis. Certain individuals show increased susceptibility to these fatal diseases, but the reasons are unknown. At the present time little is known about the mode of infection of these cell types by EBV. We are studying the mechanism of NK cell infection by EBV to better understand the pathogenesis of these fatal diseases. 

KARE 11 News Story

U of M Researchers Developing a Vaccine to Prevent Mono, MS

Updated: 12/3/2018

Impact of EBV

280,000 cases of mono in U.S college freshmen annually

200,000 new cases of EBV-associated cancers annually worldwide

2.3 million cases of multiple sclerosis worldwide

Donate to The Mono Project

Supported in part by generous grants from the HRK Foundation, the RM Schulze Family Foundation, the Matt Cwiertny Memorial Foundation and the Randy Shaver Cancer Research and Community Fund.

Contact Information

Phillips-Wangensteen Building

15-119 Phillips-Wangensteen Building
420 Delaware St. SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455 

Office: 612-625-3998