Genetic Differences May Play a Role in Successful MS Treatments

It may be a wonder for some people as well as doctors why an MS treatment may work well on one patient and not on another. A recent study has shown that genetic differences may explain why some MS patients respond well to certain treatments while some do not. This study will later on help doctors predict which type of treatments will help different patients.

According to an article in the Science Daily website, an international collaboration of researchers which included Dr. Esther Byun of the University of California has identified important genetic differences by comparing the DNA of patients with multiple sclerosis that experienced having reduced symptoms following interferon beta therapy and those who experienced relapses given the same treatment. The team of researchers followed a group of 206 Southern European patients with relapsing-remitting MS for two years after they started interferon beta therapy to treat the disease.

During the said study, the researchers collected DNA samples of each patient in the group. And every three months, the patients were checked how they reacted to the treatment by analyzing their disability levels. The study came up with 99 patients who responded well to the interferon beta treatment while the other 107 patients did not. After dividing the group in two, the researchers used micro arrays to identify certain genetic

The researchers were able to identify the top 35 single nucleotide polymorphisms or SNP’s that were candidates for further analysis. SNP’s are variations or changes that occur in a single base of DNA. The researchers then located these SNP’s in each individual patient to see if the mutations seen in those who responded well to treatment differed from those who did not. After this analysis was complete, an additional 81 patients with MS (44 responders and 35 non-responders) were added into the study. The DNA of responders was again compared to that of the non-responders.

The identification of genetic mutations in the patient’s DNA that affect response to interferon can provide researchers with important new information about how the drug functions in the body. This will help bring scientists one step closer to rational drug design and personalized medicine, the authors of the study note. However, there is a need for additional research to fully predict the treatment outcomes that are based on DNA analysis.


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