48 new genetic variants associated with MS discovered

Washington: Scientists have identified an additional 48 genetic variants that influence the risk of developing multiple sclerosis.

The study, of 29,300 individuals with multiple sclerosis and 50,794 unrelated healthy controls, led by the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine have nearly doubled the number of known genetic risk factors and thereby provided additional key insights into the biology of this debilitating neurological condition.

The genes implicated by the newly identified associations underline the central role played by the immune system in the development of multiple sclerosis and show substantial overlap with genes known to be involved in other autoimmune diseases.

The findings released in this study nearly double the number of confirmed susceptibility loci, underline the critical role played by the immune system in the development of multiple sclerosis, and highlight the marked similarities between the genetic architecture underlying susceptibility to this and the many other autoimmune diseases.

The present study takes advantage of custom designed technology known as ImmunoChip - a high-throughput genotyping array specifically designed to interrogate a targeted set of genetic variants linked to one or more autoimmune diseases.

In addition to identifying 48 new susceptibility variants, the study also confirmed and further refined a similar number of previously identified genetic associations. With these new findings, there are now 110 genetic variants associated with MS.

The study has been published online in the journal Nature Genetics.