New molecular map pinpoints genetic origin of 21 autoimmune diseases

A new study has revealed about the creation of a molecular map that shows the genetic origins of 21 autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease and diabetes.

ANI| Updated: Oct 30, 2014, 12:25 PM IST

Washington: A new study has revealed about the creation of a molecular map that shows the genetic origins of 21 autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease and diabetes.

Researchers at Yale, the University of California-San Francisco (UCSF), the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard developed a sophisticated mathematical model and created maps of different cell types that together enabled them to identify which variants cause the immune response to go awry and cause specific diseases.

Researcher Bradley Bernstein said that the genetic changes that cause autoimmune diseases are subtle and they rarely alter protein function and, as such, have been difficult to study.

Bernstein added that here they combined new genetic and epigenetic methods to understand how these genetic changes alter immune function and cause disease.

Co-senior author David A. Hafler said that these findings, which give new insight into the cause of multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases, strongly link the cause of the neurologic disease MS to the immune system as researchers found no genetic variants affecting the nervous system.

Hafler added that the results provide definitive evidence that MS is an autoimmune disease with clear evidence of a primary role of the immune system.

The study is published in the journal Nature.