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Understanding the link between our genes and our immune system in MS

Lead researcher:
Professor Stephen Sawcer
Based at:
University of Cambridge
MS Society funding:

About the project

Researchers have identified over 200 genes that are linked to the risk of developing MS. Recent studies suggest that it’s how these genes are expressed in key immune cells that’s important in MS.

The immune system includes specialised cells called B cells and T cells. B cells make proteins called antibodies which help protect us from bacteria and viruses. T cells make T cell receptors (TCRs), special proteins that bind to specific particles to remove them from our system.

In people with MS, the blood has many more TCR immune cells than in people without MS. And the level of antibodies in cerebrospinal fluid is often higher. Stephen’s team think that these immune changes are largely controlled by genetic factors.

By collecting cerebrospinal fluid and blood, we can determine which antibodies and TCRs are present in people with MS. This will help us to find out more about their function, and identify the genes that control them.

How will it help people with MS?

Understanding the causes of MS is one of our top research priorities. This project will help us to find out more about the genes and immune processes involved in the development of MS. It is hoped this understanding will lead more effective and targeted treatments for the condition.

The difference you can make

We want everyone with MS to have access to the treatments they need to live well with MS. With your help, we can continue to support vital research like this.