Two Genes Identified as Potential Targets for MS Treatment

Two genes in mice that are associated with central nervous system repair are being eyed as possible therapeutic targets for multiple sclerosis. Dr. Allan Bieber, Ph. D., a Mayo Clinic neuroscientist and lead author of the study along with a team of Mayo Clinic researchers have identified two genes through gene mapping that show possible targets from which researchers may be able to develop treatments for the demyelinating disease known as MS.

The team of researchers conducted a study that involved two strains of mice suffering from a chronic and progressive disease that is similar to MS. One strain eventually progressed that led to paralysis and death.

The other strain of mice meanwhile went through the initial destructive phase associated with the disease but then went on to experience spontaneous repair of the damage to the central nervous system that allowed the retention of most of the neurological functions. By using powerful genetic mapping techniques available for mice, the team was able to map out two strong genetic determinants of the disease outcome.

Dr. Bieber said that, "It’s possible that the identification of these genes may provide the first important clue as to why some patients with MS do well, while others do not. The genetic data indicates that good central nervous system repair results from stimulation of one genetic pathway and inhibition of another genetic pathway. While we’re still in the early stages of this research, it could eventually lead to the development of useful therapies that stimulate or inhibit these genetic pathways in patients with MS."

The research also suggested that there is a possibility of the existence of a small number of strong genetic determinants associated with central nervous system repair following a demyelinating disease rather than a larger number of weak determinants.

According to Dr. Moses Rodriguez, MD and a Mayo Clinic neurologist and director of Mayo Clinic’s Center for Multiple Sclerosis and Central Nervous System Demyelinating Diseases Research and Therapeutics, "If that’s true, it may be possible to map the most important genetic determinants of central nervous system repair in patients with MS and define a reparative genotype that could predict patients’ outcomes. Such a diagnostic tool would be a great benefit to patients with MS and is consistent with the concepts of ‘individualized medicine," further adds Dr. Rodriguez.

Source: Mayo Clinic. "Two Genes Identified As Potential Therapeutic Targets For Multiple Sclerosis." ScienceDaily 11 September 2009. 22 September 2009

 

 
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