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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

159 Genetic Variants Now Known to Be Associated With MS

The International MS Genetics consortium recently identified more than 45 new genetic variants associated with susceptibility to multiple sclerosis, many of which are involved in brain function

The list of genetic variants associated with multiple sclerosis grew even longer earlier this year at the joint ACTRIMS-ECTRIMS conference in Boston. According to a presentation by Philip De Jager, M.D., of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and the International MS Genetics Consortium, there are now more than 159 such genetic variants. Previous genome-wide association studies (GWAS) published in 2013 identified a total of around 110 variants.

The study that De Jager presented consisted of three parts: First, the team performed a meta-analysis of existing MS GWAS. Taken together, the data spanned over 14,000 individuals with MS. In an interview with MSDF, De Jager mentioned that no one had ever undertaken a meta-analysis of this scale in the field of multiple sclerosis genetics before.

From the meta-analysis, the team isolated new genetic variants and then performed a replication study in over 20,000 individuals with MS. This interim analysis confirmed 48 new variants, although De Jager said that the group will likely report more variants in the final version of the study that they plan to publish later this fall.

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