Research highlight

Genome screens suggest clues to multiple sclerosis risk

Nature Genetics

June 15, 2009

Several common gene variants point to ways in which individuals vary in their susceptibility to the autoimmune disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), according to two studies, published online in this week's Nature Genetics.

MS affects predominantly young adults of European ancestry, causing recurrent or progressive impairment of nerve function due to an attack by the immune system on the myelin protein sheaths that insulate the nerves. The disease is thought to occur after the immune system of a genetically susceptible person is activated by an environmental trigger, which might be a viral infection.

The research by teams led by Philip De Jager and Justin Paul Rubio points to differences between individuals in their responses to the signaling molecules of the immune system called interferons.

doi: 10.1038/ng.401

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