Key Multiple Sclerosis Genes Identified

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif-Researchers from Stanford University and the University of California at San Francisco have reportedly identified a series of specific genes that may help uncover why some multiple sclerosis (MS) patients develop the disease at an increased rate.

The research, published in the journal Science, highlights a group of genes found active the brains of MS sufferers. These genes have be targeted as a possible source of the autoimmune disorder that causes nerve fibers to lose their insulating sheaths.

These 300-400 genes may explain the presence of the substance osteopontin found in autopsy samples of MS patients. Osteopontin is thought to help bone formation and was not previously linked to MS before this study. Researchers theorize osteopontin may serve as a chemical switch that pushes the disease at an increased rate.

There are more than 350,000 Americans diagnosed with MS, most of whom are women in their 20s and 30s.

The researchers said their work will continue and they will use the latest information as a potential diagnostic tool.

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