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New study links immune system, MS cause


Researchers using new mathematical models and genetic mapping link the cause of multiple sclerosis to the immune system.

The mathematical model developed by investigators was applied to data from genome-wide association studies of autoimmune patients and learned that single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs, occurred near the master genetic regulators of immune system responses. Maps were created from Epigenomics project data compiled by the National Institutes of Health. When scientists compared the SNPs with the new maps, they were able to match up which cell type causes MS and other immune-response diseases and how SNPs cause immune cells to malfunction. Researchers failed to find genetic variants that affect the nervous system.

“This is highly consistent with the new MS treatments that work on the immune system, suggesting that we finally have a good handle as to the underlying causes of MS,” said Yale’s David A. Hafler, the Gilbert H. Glaser Professor of Neurology, professor of immunobiology, chair of the Department of Neurology, and co-senior author of the study.

The findings were published in the Oct. 27 issue of the journal Nature.

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