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Genetic Clue to MS Identified

12/9/2011

Another piece of evidence linking Vitamin D deficiency to MS has been reported by British and Canadian researchers who have pinpointed a rare genetic variant which causes reduced levels of vitamin D,

Oxford University researchers along with Canadian colleagues at the University of Ottawa, University of British Columbiaand McGill University identified the mutated gene in parents of 35 children with MS and in each case the child had inherited the gene, the BBC has reported.

The researchers looked for the gene variant in more than 3,000 families of unaffected parents with a child with MS, and found 35 parents who carried one copy of this variant along with one normal copy. Just one copy of the mutated gene from either parent affects a key enzyme that leads to lower levels of vitamin D. In every one of these 35 cases, their child with MS had inherited the mutated version of the gene, the researchers said.

"All 35 children inheriting the variant is like flipping a coin 35 times and getting 35 heads, entailing odds of 32 billion to one against," George Ebers, lead study author at Oxford University, said.

While the cause of MS remains unknown, the current theory suggests that a combination of genetic predisposition, environmental factors such as exposure to sunlight and possibly some sort of trigger, such as a viral infection, interact in some way to start the development of MS. Scientists said this research strengthens the case for vitamin D being one potential contributory cause of MS.



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