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Genetic factors

June 10, 2008 - 7:30am
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Due to the increased risk seen in close relatives of MS patients, it is clear that genetic factors will be involved in susceptibility. To date, the strongest genetic link has been found to chromosome 6 but its association with MS susceptibility is incomplete and studies have found other potential associations between MS and chromosomes 1, 5, 7, and 19. As yet, no causative genes have been identified and there is no genetic test for susceptibility to MS. Further family studies that include affected and unaffected family members will be crucial to success.

In order to cure MS, scientists must learn how to stop the body's attack on itself once it has begun. Research designed to develop effective treatments for MS may lead to knowledge of how to actually stop, not just slow, the progression of MS. And while diagnosing the disease early, before great damage is done, will be important to reduce disability, repair of the myelin coating around nerve cells may also be needed for complete recovery of central nervous system function in patients. To do this, scientists will need to understand more about how the nervous system develops and how repair of damage to myelinated nerve cells can be stimulated. Basic research in isolated human cells, animal models for MS and human clinical trials will be crucial to the development of therapeutic strategies for MS and other neurologic demyelinating diseases.

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