multiple sclerosis treatment identified
By Live Dr - Thu Aug 18, 1:25 pm
Scientists have identified 29 new genetic variants linked to multiple sclerosis, providing key insights into the biology of a very debilitating neurological disease.
This is the largest MS genetics study ever undertaken and includes contributions from almost 250 researchers as members of the International Multiple Sclerosis Genetics Consortium and the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium.
The findings focus attention on the pivotal role of the immune system in causing the damage and help to explain the nature of the immune attack on the brain and spinal cord.
In this multi-population study, the researchers studied the DNA from 9,772 individuals with multiple sclerosis and 17,376 unrelated healthy controls.
They were able to confirm 23 previously known genetic associations and identified a further 29 new genetic variants (and an additional five that are strongly suspected) conferring susceptibility to the disease.
A large number of the genes implicated by these findings play pivotal roles in the workings of the immune system, specifically in the function of T-cells (one type of white blood cell responsible for mounting an immune response against foreign substances in the body but also involved in autoimmunity) as well as the activation of `interleukins’ (chemicals that ensure interactions between different types of immune cell).
Interestingly, one third of the genes identified in this research have previously been implicated in playing a role in other autoimmune diseases (such as Crohn”s Disease and Type 1 diabetes) indicating that, perhaps as expected, the same general processes occur in more than one type of autoimmune disease.
Along with the many genes, the researchers identified two involved in the metabolism of Vitamin D, providing additional insight into a possible link between genetic and environmental risk factors.
“Identifying the basis for genetic susceptibility to any medical condition provides reliable insights into the disease mechanisms,” said Dr. Alastair Compston from the University of Cambridge who, one of the lead researcher of the study.
“Our research settles a longstanding debate on what happens first in the complex sequence of events that leads to disability in multiple sclerosis. It is now clear that multiple sclerosis is primarily an immunological disease. This has important implications for future treatment strategies,” he added.
The study was published in the journal Nature.