Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Scientists deepen genetic understanding of MS

Five scientists, including two from Simon Fraser University, have discovered that 30 per cent of our likelihood of developing Multiple Sclerosis (MS) can be explained by 475,806 genetic variants in our genome. Genome-wide Association Studies (GWAS) commonly screen these variants, looking for genetic links to diseases.

Corey Watson, a recent SFU doctoral graduate in biology, his thesis supervisor SFU biologist Felix Breden and three scientists in the United Kingdom have just had their findings published online in Scientific Reports. It’s a sub-publication of the journal Nature.

An inflammatory disease of the central nervous system, MS is the most common neurological disorder among young adults. Canada has one of the highest MS rates in the world.

Watson and his colleagues recently helped quantify MS genetic susceptibility by taking a closer look at GWAS-identified variants in the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) region in 1,854 MS patients. The region has long been associated with MS susceptibility.

The MS patients’ variants were compared to those of 5,164 controls, people without MS.

They noted that eight percent of our 30-per-cent genetic susceptibility to MS is linked to small DNA variations on chromosome 6, which have also long been associated with MS susceptibility.

The MHC encodes proteins that facilitate communication between certain cells in the immune system. Outside of the MHC, a good majority of genetic susceptibility can’t be nailed down because current studies don’t allow for all variants in our genome to be captured.

“Much of the liability is unaccounted for because current research methods don’t enable us to fully interrogate our genome in the context of risk for MS or other diseases,” says Watson.

The researchers believe that one place to look for additional genetic causes of MS may be in genes that have variants that are rare in the population. “The importance of rare gene variants in MS has been illustrated in two recent studies,” notes Watson, now a postdoctoral researcher at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.

“But these variants, too, are generally poorly represented by genetic markers captured in GWAS, like the one our study was based on.”

Simon Fraser University is Canada's top-ranked comprehensive university and one of the top 50 universities in the world under 50 years old. With campuses in Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey, B.C., SFU engages actively with the community in its research and teaching, delivers almost 150 programs to more than 30,000 students, and has more than 120,000 alumni in 130 countries.

"Simon Fraser University: Engaging Students. Engaging Research. Engaging Communities"

Corey Watson, 1.347.633.2083 (3 hours ahead of Pacific time),
Felix Breden, 778.782.5647/5641,
Carol Thorbes, PAMR, 778.782.3035,

Carol Thorbes | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht First time-lapse footage of cell activity during limb regeneration
25.10.2016 | eLife

nachricht Phenotype at the push of a button
25.10.2016 | Institut für Pflanzenbiochemie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Greater Range and Longer Lifetime

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VDI presents International Bionic Award of the Schauenburg Foundation

26.10.2016 | Awards Funding

3-D-printed magnets

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>