Researchers Discover 29 New Genetic Variants Associated With MS

Researchers have recently identified 29 new genetic variants that are linked to multiple sclerosis. Most of the genes identified are found relevant to the body’s immune system. This might help shed light on the various immunological pathways that may lead to the development of MS. The discovery doubles the number of genes that are associated with the said disease.

The research team, which is composed of an international team of scientists led by the University of Montreal, University of Cambridge, as well as the University of Oxford. The said study is considered as one of the largest MS genetics study ever conducted involving contributions coming from around 250 researchers who were also members of the Multiple Sclerosis Genetics Consortium and the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium.

The said multi-population study also involved a DNA study of 9,772 individuals with MS and 17,376 healthy controls. The researchers were able to confirm the 23 previously known genetic variants linked to MS and identified 29 new genetic variants that may be involved in the development of the said disease.

A large number of the genes identified by the study also play pivotal roles in the immune system function, specifically those involving the T-cells, immune cells that are tasked to mount an immune response against foreign compounds in the body. About one third of the gene variants identified were also known previously to play a role in the development of other autoimmune diseases such as Crohn’s Disease as well as Type 1 diabetes. This may indicate that there may be some similar processes that may be occurring in the different types of autoimmune diseases.

The results of the study was published in the August issue of the journal Nature.

Source: University of Montreal (2011, August 10). Multiple sclerosis research doubles number of genes associated with the disease, increasing the number to over 50. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 16, 2011, from

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