The hunt is on all over the world for variations in people's genetic makeup that may increase risk of sporadic motor neurone disease. So far these ambitious scientists are mostly coming back empty-handed. This is likely due to the fact that, like snowflakes, each case of MND presents differently.

This is the conclusion the authors of the largest genome-wide (a genome is a person's complete set of genes) association study to date; "A two-stage genome-wide association study of sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as MND)", published in Human Molecular Genetics.

It appears that the variability present in MND, both clinically and genetically, means that researchers have their work cut out for them. But researchers have not given up hope, the International Consortium on Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Genetics, sponsored by the ALS Association (ALSA; USA), is working to collect thousands of subjects by archiving and analysing genetic data in one large repository.

Source: International MND research update – March 2009, Dr Justin Yerbury for MNDRIA

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