06 Jul 2009
Hunter researchers have contributed to the discovery of two genes linked to the development of Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
This important research, published recently in the international scientific journal, Nature Genetics, confirms that MS is an autoimmune disease and provides clues about the causes of MS.
The discovery was made by the ANZgene consortium - Australian and
MS researchers from Hunter New England Health collected blood samples for genetic DNA information from Hunter people with and without MS, which contributed to a total of more than 5,000 participants involved in the study. Genetics and bioinformatics specialists Professor Rodney Scott and Associate Professor Pablo Moscato from the
“We know if you have a sibling with multiple sclerosis your risk of developing the disease rises from roughly 1 in 1000 to 35 in 1000. For a long time, only one gene was found to be associated with the disease. Recently a few more have been identified,“ said Dr Jeannette Lechner Scott, a Staff Specialist in Neurology at
“Genome-wide screening in Australian and
“Not everyone with these genetic variants will develop MS. In addition to a genetic predisposition to MS, it is likely that you need to encounter two or more environmental factors to trigger the onset of the disease.
“We can now examine these genetic clues alongside environmental clues and see if they are linked. In time, this could lead to better therapies or even prevention of MS.”
MS affects 2.5 million people worldwide including almost 20,000 Australians. The causes of MS are unknown but are thought to be a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental factors.
This research was funded by a cooperative scheme (Linkage Grant) between MS Research
HMRI is a partnership between the
Media contact: Lauren Eyles, HMRI Communications Manager, phone 0434 600 940.
Learn more about innovative bioinformatics research being conducted in the Hunter at the University of Newcastle's Priority Research Centre for Bioinformatics, Biomarker Discovery and Information-based Medicine
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