To be able to create a genome that will help cure multiple sclerosis we need to be able to understand what causes it, this will allow us to understand what we are trying to prevent. Once we have an idea of what causes it we can make our genome personalised to target that one factor rather than trial and error.
An immune response damages the nerve fibres that send messages to and from the brain. It isn’t known what actually stimulates this immune response in the first place but scientists believe that it is the combination of a lot of different factors combined including environmental, infectious and genetic factors.
- Scientists have realised that MS mostly affects areas that are further from the equator so are researching into possible variations in lifestyle that may cause this. Evidence has suggested that a person’s exposure to vitamin D from the sun plays an important role in them developing MS. People who live close to the equator come into contact with sunlight during most of the year this means that their body makes their own vitamin D naturally supporting the immune system, this could be the reason why they are more protected against MS than people who live further from the equator.
- Studies have shown that the more a person smokes the higher risk they have of developing multiple sclerosis and a higher rate at which the MS will evolve.
- It is quite possible that some sort of infectious agent may have a part in triggering MS. A lot of these different agents have been investigated to determine if they have a part in the development of multiple sclerosis yet no definite proof has been gained to confirm it.
- It is believed that if your close family have MS your chance of developing MS will increase drastically, this is because some families have been found where there is more than one person with MS
- Also, recent research has shown that populations with certain genes in common have high MS rates within them
- A common theory developed states that a person will be born with a genetic predisposition to react with some sort of environmental agent when they come into contact with this environmental agent it causes a response from the immune system leading to MS
Many people say that only the genetic factor causes MS however recent research has shown that even the identical twin of someone (They share really similar genes) only has a 1 in 4 chance of developing MS meaning there are other factors that are involved in triggering the disease.
This means that it would be hard to develop a genome to target MS as so many factors come into play so rather than thinking of a way to stop the initial immune response it would make more sense to stop the response from getting past the myelin to the nerves in some way.
By Sonia and Riya