Research Unlocks Genetic Variants That Cause Multiple Sclerosis
August 12, 2011
An international team of scientists has identified the major common genetic variants that contribute to the cause of the devastating neurologic disease, multiple sclerosis.
AsianScientist (Aug. 12, 2011) – An international team of scientists has identified the major common genetic variants that contribute to the cause of the devastating neurologic disease, multiple sclerosis (MS).
The results of the study, published on Wednesday in the journal Nature, represents years of work by the International Multiple Sclerosis Genetics Consortium (IMSGC), involving more than 250 researchers in 15 countries, including Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore.
Australian scientists played a significant role, recruiting more than 1,000 Australians with MS who contributed DNA samples to the study.
The study confirmed the presence of up to 57 MS genes with a remarkable pattern that shows that the reason some people get MS and others don’t is largely due to subtle, inherited differences in immune function. It points to a pivotal role for T cells – the ‘orchestra leaders’ of the immune system and makes it clear that MS is primarily an immunologic disease.
Professor Trevor Kilpatrick, Director of the Melbourne Neuroscience Institute at the University of Melbourne, with his research team and colleagues at the Florey Neuroscience Institutes, assembled thousands of patients for the study.
“The next step is rigorous assessment of hundreds of patients to see how these newly identified genes function and contribute to the development of MS. This study has already commenced,” Prof. Kilpatrick said.
The Australian and New Zealand contribution was led by Prof. Graeme Stewart, a clinical immunologist in the Westmead Millennium Institute, University of Sydney. It involved a consortium of 18 researchers from five states in Australia, and a group called ANZgene in New Zealand.
“Discovering so many new leads is an enormous step towards understanding the cause of MS,” Stewart said. “Most importantly, for people with MS, these genes also strengthen the case for immunologic treatments currently in clinical trials and point to new therapeutic approaches.”
The article can be found at: Genetic risk and a primary role for cell-mediated immune mechanisms in multiple sclerosis.
Source: University of Melbourne.
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