The blog of Xeno, a slightly mad scientist
Scientists are hailing the discovery of 48 genetic variants which influence the risk of a person getting multiple sclerosis as a breakthrough that brings them a step closer to finding a cure.
A team of scientists from 13 countries, including Australia, examined the DNA collected from 80,000 people with and without MS, in a bid to understand why certain people are susceptible to the debilitating disease and others are not.
They were able to double the number of known genetic variants that they say can make a person more susceptible to developing MS.
Professor David Booth from the Westmead Millennium Institute, one of the nearly 200 genetic scientists who pooled their knowledge in the global study, says the findings demonstrated the key role played by a person’s immune system in the disease’s development.
“These genes, like the first ones that we’ve found, are actually all immune genes,” he told ABC’s AM program.
“So what they suggest is that even though multiple sclerosis is a neurological disease, it’s damage to the brain that characterises it.
“It looks like susceptibility is mainly due to the variation in people’s immune response.”
The study, published in the latest Nature Genetics medical journal, also reveals a substantial overlap with genes known to be involved in other auto-immune diseases such as Crohn’s and coeliac disease. …