Research shows that gene variations make some people vulnerable to suffer from the dreaded disease of multiple sclerosis and a simple genetic testing can diagnose the risk.
According to the most complete genetic study to date in the disorder, presented by the researchers from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee at the 130th annual meeting of the American Neurological Association in San Diego, a cluster of genes on chromosome six is the only one that plays a significant role in multiple sclerosis (MS).
The major histo-compatibility complex (MHC) is a cluster of genes that play a critical role in the recognition of cells in the body as belonging to the body, i.e., not intruders such as bacteria or other pathogens. When this system of recognition breaks down, the immune system may mistakenly launch an attack against cells, as happens in MS.
Researchers believe that some genetic variations in MHC genes make people more susceptible to whatever environmental causes also contribute to MS.
Previous studies have implicated the MHC, but also regions on other chromosomes, as harboring genes that increase MS risk. Haines suggests that these studies failed to include enough subjects.
In multiple sclerosis, depending on which nerve fibers are hindered, patients can experience problems ranging from weakness and clumsiness to numbness, visual disturbances, and even emotional and intellectual alterations. In some patients, MS manifests itself in cycles of relapse and remission and patients may show little sign of the disease between attacks.