Friday Links: New genes for multiple sclerosis, and a new list of DTC genomics companies

This week sees the publication of a large study of the genetics of multiple sclerosis. A consortium of 23 research groups gathered together data on nearly 10,000 MS suffers, and discovered 29 new genetic variants that contribute to disease risk. Overall, genetic variants for MS can now explain around 20% of the overall heritability of the disease, and these genetic variants highlight pathways that are likely to be important in the disease (such as T-helper-cell differentiation). Notably, this study is published in Nature, which is pretty rare for genome-wide association studies such as this. Perhaps related to this is the wonderful degree of detail included in the figures, such as in the ancestry plots of individuals in the study (see left). It is also surprisingly readable, containing just 4 pages of main article, with the nitty-gritty relegated to 100 pages of supplemental text. [LJ]

The Genetics and Public Policy Center have released an updated version of their list of direct-to-consumer genetic testing companies. You can view the list as a rather user-unfriendly massive PDF matrix of companies versus diseases tested here. The list is certainly not as useful as it could be – for instance, there are no indications of test price or quality, and whole-genome sequencing companies are shown as not testing for any disease, rather than (effectively) testing for all diseases – but it would be a good starting point for a crowd-sourcing project to produce a more comprehensive database. Hmmm… [DM]

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7 Responses to “Friday Links: New genes for multiple sclerosis, and a new list of DTC genomics companies”


  • The MS paper is pretty sweet (haven’t yet fully read it). Does it turn out that MS is about 50% heritable, too? Also: 4 page papers with 100 pages of SOM, clearly the wave of the future, but for good or for evil? Discuss.

  • I only pray that with all of these studies, scientist find a more effective treatment for MS and not just drugs that “slow down” the progression of it.

  • I’m curious myself as to why this ended up in Nature as opposed to Nature Genetics. Is there something special about this GWAS?

  • Yes me too. I don’t see what was so special about this study? They had some mammoth QC issues and replication was poor?

  • I like the idea of a crowd-sourced direct-to-consumer database. Anyone know of someone working on this?

  • Yeah Allie, I’m going to start working on a wiki

  • Merrill Behney

    Multiple sclerosis can only be cured through modern stem cell research. Currently it cannot be cured successfully with modern medications.;,:”.

    Best regards http://www.foodsupplementdigest.com/gaba-side-effects/

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