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THE Vitamin D gene 'could treat multiple sclerosis'

Posted Nov 17 2009 10:20pm

WASHINGTON: Scientists have discovered two new genes involved in multiple sclerosis, a breakthrough they claim could pave the way for treating the debilitating disease using vitamin D.

An international team has pinpointed the two genetic variants which increase the risk of multiple sclerosis as well as reveal links to other autoimmune disease, the latest issue of the 'Nature Genetics' journal reported.

Lead scientist Prof Matthew Brown of the University of Queensland said: “One of the two genes is most likely a gene which controls metabolism of vitamin D. Previous research has already shown that levels of vitamin D influence the risk of people contract ing MS. **For example, people have a higher risk the further they live from the Equator. This instantly suggests that a possible preventative treatment for multiple sclerosis is vitamin D. This may lead to new types of therapeutics down the track.'' Thei r three-year study involved scanning the DNA of 1,618 people with multiple sclerosis and 3,413 people without multiple sclerosis.

The team looked at genetic landmarks in the genome called SNPs and then progressively narrowed down their search to individual genes. After comparing over 300,000 SNPs, two genetic regions on chromosome 12 and 20 showed significant differences. - PTI

Source: Business Line - June 16, 2009

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