NI Research Group Marks World MS Day with Announcement of Next Major Phase of Genomic Study Transformational Research Aims to Unlock Keys to Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

An innovative Northern Irish genomics research study group celebrated World MS Day yesterday (Wednesday 30th May) by announcing the next significant phase of its ground-breaking Multiple Sclerosis (MS) research.

The group comprises of life sciences company Genomics Medicine Ireland, the Clinical Translational Research and Innovation Centre (C-TRIC) in Derry, the Western Health and Social Care Trust (Western Trust), and Ulster University.

The partnership is currently undertaking a comprehensive, population-scale genomic research study in Northern Ireland in conjunction with doctors and pharmacies in primary care, the first collaborative work of its kind in the region. Researchers will combine advanced scientific technology in genomics - the study of all of a person’s genes - together with detailed clinical information to search for answers that one day might lead to the development of new therapeutics for more effective prevention and wellness.

 Volunteers participating in these studies will be contributing to important scientific research aimed at unlocking the mystery of the genetic and lifestyle factors that contribute to Multiple Sclerosis (MS). MS is one of the most prevalent diseases of the central nervous system and directly affects an estimated 2.5 million people worldwide and more than 4,500 people in Northern Ireland.

 Dr. Aaron Peace, CEO of C-TRIC and Director of Research and Development, Western Trust said:  “This study launched in September 2017 and already we have had a fantastic turn-out. We are now moving beyond the pilot phase of the research and moving to the next level, whereby we can comprehensively study the significant data set we have now collected and aim to discover new treatments for MS, with the possibility of maybe even one day finding a cure.”

Professor Tony Bjourson, Director of Ulster University’s Northern Ireland Centre for Stratified Medicine who is leading the project in Northern Ireland said: “This large collaborative effort - four research sites coordinated so successfully with the primary care sector, including GPs and pharmacists – is the first of its kind in Northern Ireland. The groundswell of goodwill experienced in this fight against MS is heartening, and a great example of the efforts being undertaken to combat the disease in advance of World MS Day this Wednesday 30th May.”

 Dr. Sean Ennis, Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Genomics Medicine Ireland said, “We are thoroughly enjoying working with C-TRIC, the Western Trust and Ulster University on this critically important study. The size and characteristics of the Northern Ireland population can powerfully advance scientific discovery as our researchers are able to pinpoint variations in DNA that are relevant to these diseases and useful for improving medicine. The resulting therapies to cure and prevent these diseases will benefit patients not only in Northern Ireland but also around the world.”

People from across Northern Ireland with MS are being invited to contact their healthcare professionals to learn how they can participate in the study which aim to identify the genetic cause of these diseases and ultimately find better treatments, diagnoses and cures for this chronic condition.



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