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Canadian Study of MS-Prone Family Proves That in Rare Cases, Multiple Sclerosis is Inherited

May 3, 2017

A study proved that a combination of mutations in two genes makes members of a Canadian family a 7-in-10 chance of developing multiple sclerosis (MS). This is a radical increase from the 1-in-1,000 risk among the general population.

Researchers usually view MS as resulting from the small effects of numerous genes that come together with unfortunate environmental factors to cause disease. However, the team challenged the notion that MS is not an inherited condition by demonstrating that in rare cases, it can be. In the study, the research team homed in on two genes that were linked to MS in earlier studies. To explore whether the mutations really changed the way cells work, they grew cells with the mutations in the laboratory and observed how they differed from normal cells.

According to senior study author Carles Vilarino-Guell, an assistant professor of medical genetics, asserted that this kind of study can provide scientists with a better understanding of the disease’s origins for developing new treatments.

People with the known mutations, however, can try to reduce their risk of disease, like taking vitamin D supplements or quitting smoking.