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July 30, 2007

Researchers Identify New Genes Linked With MS

Topics: Medicine

Gene.jpgThe role of one of the gene suspects in MS - a variant of the interleukin-7 or IL-7 receptor, has been confirmed in two papers published online on Sunday in Nature Genetics. While researchers believe that both environmental and genetic factors play a role in the development of MS, which attacks and destroys the insulation along nerve fibers, according to Dr. Stephen Hauser at the University of of California San Francisco, the discovery of the new gene suspects brings us introduces a whole new pathway that could have a very important role in understanding the fundamental mechanisms that trigger MS:

[...] The gene helps control the activity of regulatory T cells, which suppress the activation of the body's immune system.

... While the studies used different methods, they both pointed the finger at IL-7.

[...] The Nature Genetics study, led by Jonathan Haines of Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, and Margaret Pericak-Vance of the University of Miami, examined variants in three genes suspected to have a role in the disease. It found variants in IL-7 receptors were consistently more common in MS patients than in healthy people.

Researchers observed a similar association in a separate study in Nature Genetics by Jan Hillert of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm and colleagues, who looked at a large collection of people from Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden.

The other gene identified by the whole genome scan -- the IL-2 receptor -- has been linked to two other autoimmune diseases: type 1 diabetes and autoimmune thyroid disease.

"The story here is the commonality of autoimmune disease," ...

More ...

Posted by Richard at July 30, 2007 7:02 AM

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