In the majority of cases of MND genes play a subtle role. However in a small number of cases genetic makeup is more significant.
A small proportion of people (5 - 10%) of people with MND will have a strong family history of the disease. These rare inherited forms of MND are caused by a mistake in the genetic code that is passed down from one generation to the next meaning that their genetic makeup is more significant.
The identification of MND disease-causing genes could provide clues to the underlying mechanisms of MND. The Association is funding research that uses new technology to hunt for these genes.
Subtle Genetic Factors
For the majority of cases of MND (where there is no family history) genes play a more subtle role where variations in certain genes are thought to contribute to the chances of developing the disease. These genes are sometimes known as susceptibility genes.
While certain variations in these genes may increase the risk of a person getting MND, they do not on their own cause the disease. The majority of cases of MND only develops when a genetically susceptible person encounters a number of as yet unidentified lifestyle and environmental factors.
Some people have subtle variations in genes that offer protection and reduce the chances of developing the disease. These genes are known as suppressor genes.
The identification of susceptibility and suppressor genes could provide clues to the underlying mechanisms of MND. The Association is funding research that uses new technology to hunt for these genes.
"Genetics underlies everything the body does and so I think that by studying genes we’ll find the basic mechanisms that lead us to have MND."
- Ammar Al-Chalabi, Professor of Neurology and Complex Disease Genetics, King's College London
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