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Discovery may boost MS research

Research conducted in Australia and New Zealand has uncovered gene locations on chromosomes 12 and 20, which indicate susceptibility to multiple sclerosis

Research conducted in Australia and New Zealand has uncovered gene locations on chromosomes 12 and 20, which indicate susceptibility to multiple sclerosis (MS).

Professor Trevor Kilpatrick, Director for Neurosciences at the University of Melbourne and Dr Justin Rubio of Florey Neurosciences Institutes, based in the city, coordinated the three-year study. Members of ANZgene, a consortium of more than 40 investigators from 11 institutions, carried out the research using the MS Research Australia (MSRA) gene bank. The DNA of 1,618 people with MS was scanned, along with that of 3,413 control subjects.

Dr Rubio explained where this research may lead: "Our next steps include studying how changes in these target genes might influence the development of MS. This work could provide insight into the development of novel therapeutics."

Professor Kilpatrick noted that further studies must ensure that therapies for MS arising from this discovery do not cause susceptibility to other autoimmune diseases.

"When we start thinking about new generation therapeutic interventions, we'll have to be very careful about making sure that we're not inducing side effects," he said, MS affects 2.5 million people worldwide and it is the most common cause of disability affecting young adults in the European Union.

16th June 2009

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