In all probability, there is a genetic reason for a very small percentage of patients having very severe disease. Thirty-five years ago, a Danish group in Copenhagen found that when they tested MS patients who had suf
Tumor necrosis factor a principal factor made by macrophages that damage myelin.
fered this rapidly progressive malignant disease, the majority of them had both the B-7 and DR-2 genes. It is now known that the gene for tumor necrosis factor, which is a principal factor in damaging myelin, is contained within this region and that there are more active mutations of these genes in some MS patients than in normal individuals. The extension of the human genome project, it is hoped, will extend these findings and shed further light on these genetic associations with severe disease. New specific therapeutic interventions may then follow.
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