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: £252,930

Status: Active

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.

The next research breakthrough is in reach

Your donation will help stop MS.

  • Please enter an amount

    Our minimum donation is £2, please enter a different amount.

£30could process one blood sample, giving researchers crucial information about genes and the immune system.

£50could pay for an hour on a microscope, so scientists can study cells and tissue in greater detail and improve their understanding of the biology of MS.

£100could pay for half an hour of MRI use, so researchers can monitor the success of clinical trials and understand MS in more detail.

Every penny you give really does take us a step closer to stopping MS. Your donation will make a difference.

  • Please enter an amount

    Our minimum donation is £2, please enter a different amount.

£10a month could pay for lab equipment like microscope slides to study the building blocks of MS

£20a month could pay for lab equipment like petri dishes to grow bacteria important for studying genetics

£30a month could process a blood sample to help us understand what causes MS, so we can stop it in its tracks

Your regular donation means we can keep funding world class MS research with confidence. Together we will stop MS.

MS researcher at work in lab, using a pipette