The Herald - Uk
HELEN PUTTICK, Health Correspondent
May 14th, 2008

A groundbreaking study of Scots' DNA is being launched to discover why the nation has the highest rates of multiple sclerosis in the world.
It is hoped the research, which involves scouring the genes of hundreds of people, will explain why patients contract the devastating disease and help the development of new treatments.

The populations of Orkney and Shetland are the focus of the investigation as MS is more common in the two island communities than anywhere else.

Residents who suffer from the illness will be asked to give blood, as well as locals who have no history of the disease, so scientists can compare the samples. They hope to untangle the genetic code which makes people vulnerable to MS and see if their blood responds differently to a virus which it is thought might trigger the illness.

Dr Jim Wilson, a population geneticist at Edinburgh University who is leading the study, said: "We hope to unravel the mystery as to why rates of MS are so high in Orkney, Shetland and Scotland and also to provide possible answers to patients who suffer the disease around the world."

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