December 1, 2003
Boston Cure Project
Most scientists believe that a person's chance of getting MS is determined by genetic and environmental influences acting together. However, most studies of potential causes of MS are conducted only on one type of candidate (e.g., genes, toxic exposures, or pathogens) in isolation. A team of scientists from Sweden recently broke out of this paradigm by studying possible interactions between genes and solvent exposure that may cause MS. Their hypothesis was that having a particular variant in one of two genes (GSTM1 and CYP2D6) involved in metabolizing organic solvents, combined with organic solvent exposure, may lead to MS. They analyzed these variants in 50 people with MS (24 who had significant solvent exposure and 26 who did not) but failed to find any genetic differences between the two groups. Although this study was small and does not appear to have included a healthy control group for additional comparison, it is still encouraging that multidisciplinary MS research is starting to take hold.
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