Research teams uncover risk genes for multiple sclerosis

d Hafler, MD, the Jack, Sadie and David Breakstone professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Womens Hospital, another of the consortium study authors. This study will likely spur further research into the connection between these seemingly separate conditions.

These advances are an outgrowth of a 15-year effort at UCSF to create a national repository of more than 10,000 samples of DNA from people with MS and their families, the largest such collection nationwide. A similar database, in both quantity and quality, had been developed at the University of Cambridge, in England. Both collections were used for both of these studies.

But the real breakthroughs came through collaboration. Hauser said that individually, none of the six centers in the consortium could have completed a study of this scale and complexity, but by using a Collaborative Research Award from the National MS Society, they were able to form a truly effective international consortium that could deliver the most exhaustive search for MS risk factors ever published.

The consortium paper is among a series of recent whole-genome association studies that have begun to uncover the genetic basis of complex diseases like diabetes, schizophrenia, and coronary artery disease. Unlike diseases caused by a mutation in a single gene, these conditions seem to arise from a combination of genetic, behavioral and environmental factors.

Jorge Oksenberg, PhD, a UCSF neurology professor who has been involved in the development of the UCSF collection for more than a decade, said that it wasnt until scientists were able to combine the potential of both repositories with the intellectual and financial resources of previously competing research teams that they were able to make the connections represented in these studies.

For studying these complex genetic diseases, where were looking at many genes contributing and each one contributing just a littl

Contact: Kristen Bole
University of California - San Francisco

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