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MS at the Limits 2022 | Is MS susceptibility influenced by genetic risk factors?

Sergio Baranzini, PhD, The University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, discusses the possible genetic risk factors for multiple sclerosis (MS) progression. The first major discovery in the field of MS genetics, since ascertaining the region of the genome encoding HLA molecules in the 1970s, was made in 2007 when the first non-HLA genetic associations were discovered. This lack of progress was due to insufficient sample sizes for analysis since it is essential to have data sets with strong statistical power in genetic studies. For this reason, the International MS Genetics Consortium was founded so that different investigators worldwide could collaborate and contribute MS samples to a larger pool. This increase in sample size consequently enabled the discovery of 236 associations between 2007 and 2019. Prof. Baranzini clarifies that genetic risk factors increase susceptibility to MS, and 95% of genes involved in susceptibility have an immune function. MS starts as a disruption of mechanisms that control the immune system, therefore, all efficacious MS therapies are immune regulators. It is known that susceptibility to MS is due to genetic risk factors; however, the next step is to determine whether progression has a genetic basis. This interview took place during the 2022 Multiple Sclerosis at the Limits Conference in London, UK.

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