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Genetic Variants Tied to MS, Study Finds

Study of Sardinians confirms previous research done in mice

SUNDAY, May 9 (HealthDay News) -- Variants of a gene called CBLB are associated with multiple sclerosis in humans, a new study finds.

Previous research found that variants of CBLB, which is normally responsible for moderating immune response, influenced MS risk in mice.

In this new study, an international research team analyzed the genomes of MS patients on the Italian island of Sardinia, which has a high incidence of MS and other autoimmune diseases in which the immune system attacks healthy cells.

The study is published in the May 9 issue of Nature Genetics.

Along with the finding about the association between CBLB gene variants and MS, the researchers also confirmed that six genes previously identified as being associated with MS risk in other populations also contribute to the risk of the disease in Sardinians.

People on Sardinia are often used for gene-association studies because of their relative genetic similarity. The initial group of people that settled there more than 8,000 years ago has grown to the modern population of 1.5 million, with few people moving to the island in the interim.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke has more about MS.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: U.S. National Institute of Aging, news release, May 9, 2010

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