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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Genetic Clues May Help Predict MS Outcomes

Source: MSFYi newsletter

Among the unknown factors about MS is why the disease differs in severity, symptoms and progression from person to person. Results of a recent study conducted by the Mayo Clinic indicate that at least some predictions of disease course may lie in a small number of strong genetic determinants.

Researchers discovered that two genes in mice were associated with good central nervous system repair, giving them hope for developing more effective therapies for people with MS and for anticipating how the body will respond to the disease.

The study used two different strains of mice with a chronic, progressive, MS-like disease. One strain progressed to paralysis and death. The other underwent the initial damage phase of the disease and then spontaneously repaired the damage to the central nervous system, retaining most neurological function. Using genetic mapping techniques for mice, researchers mapped two strong genetic determinants of good disease outcome.

“It’s possible that the identification of these genes may provide the first important clues as to why some patients with MS do well, while others do not,” says Allan Bieber, Ph.D, the Mayo Clinic neuroscientist who authored the study. “The genetic data indicates that good central nervous system repair results from stimulations of one genetic pathway and inhibition of another genetic pathway. While we’re still in the early stages of research, it could eventually lead to the development of useful therapies that stimulate or inhibit these genetic pathways in patients with MS.”

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