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Genomics Medicine Ireland Ltd.. (12/11/17). "Press Release: Genomics Medicine Ireland Research Study Aims to Unlock Answers to MS". Cork.

Region Region Ireland, Republic of
Organisations Organisation Genomics Medicine Ireland Ltd. (GMI)
  Group WuXi PharmaTech (Group)
  Organisation 2 University of Cork
Products Product genomic marker / genetic marker (research)
  Product 2 personalised medicine / precision medicine

GMI collaborates with multiple hospitals across Ireland

Irish life sciences company Genomics Medicine Ireland Ltd. (GMI) today announced a new cross-border research collaboration that aims to identify the genetic markers that can help diagnose, predict disease severity, and identify personalised treatments for patients with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

People with MS are being invited to participate in the research, which is the most comprehensive genomic study of MS to be undertaken on the island of Ireland. The hospitals and research centres involved in the launch of this study are: Cork University Hospital; St. Vincent's University Hospital, Dublin; Tallaght Hospital, Dublin; and hospitals in the Western Health and Social Care Trust area, Northern Ireland, in conjunction with the Clinical Translational Research Centre (C-TRIC) at Altnagelvin Hospital site in Derry/Londonderry.

MS is one of the most prevalent diseases of the central nervous system and directly affects approximately 9,000 people in Ireland1 and an estimated 2.5 million people worldwide. It is the most common disabling neurological disorder amongst young people, especially aged 20-30, and approximately 250 people are diagnosed with the condition every year in Ireland.

Multiple Sclerosis is one of the most elusive diseases to diagnose: symptoms can vary widely between patients, they can appear and disappear over long periods of time, and there is no one single definitive test to identify it. The results of the wide range of tests available can take some time to process, and because symptoms can come and go the tests can be difficult to perform. Genomics – the study of all of a person’s genes (the genome) – aims to reduce this complexity by identifying the genetic markers related to MS, thereby leading to more efficient and effective diagnosis and treatment.

Sean Ennis, Chief Scientific Officer of Genomics Medicine Ireland, said, “There is no known cause of MS but it is generally held that it is a combination of factors such as genetics, environment and a person’s immune system. MS itself is not hereditary but the risk factors are increased if a family member has the disease. This study will give us a greater understanding of the role of genetics in MS, helping the development of more targeted therapies for treating and managing the condition. Ultimately, in the longer term, we are looking to gain insights that will lead to the prevention of the disease.”

Speaking at the launch, Andrea O’Mahony, a 32-year-old from Ovens in Cork who has been living with MS for the last 10 years, commented that “Multiple Sclerosis is such a complex disease – the symptoms can vary significantly from person to person, making it difficult to diagnose and treat effectively. The result is that it can take time to conduct the tests and find the appropriate treatments, depending on the person and the form of the disease they have. So I’m really excited by the potential of this research study by GMI to identify the genetic markers of MS, which could lead to early detection, more accurate targeted treatments, and more. The more people who partake in the study the better we can understand the disease, and this brings with it the potential to, in time, find a cause and cure. I would encourage everyone with any form of MS to contact their consultant and help contribute to the research.”

Aoife Kirwan from Kildare, who was diagnosed with MS six years ago when she was 23, added that, “As a mother I am obviously very interested in the potential for genomics to identify the genetic markers for Multiple Sclerosis. The study itself has the potential for genomics to diagnose diseases at an early stage, which is incredible. Early detection and intervention with chronic illnesses like MS is important and any research that advances this is obviously very exciting. It’s an extremely positive step and I’m thrilled that Ireland is the first country to undertake such a wide-ranging study, which could have implications not only for us in Ireland but also for the MS community worldwide.”

Ava Battles, Chief Executive of MS Ireland, commented that, “People in Ireland living with MS embrace these types of research studies and want to encourage greater examination of MS. The more people who participate in this study, the greater the opportunity to make very significant breakthroughs into the causes of MS and into potential treatments. Ireland can take a lead within the global MS community to help accelerate discovery.”

People with MS that are attending any of the hospitals involved in the study and who are interested in participating in the research can ask their consultant for more information.

Genomics Medicine Ireland also hopes to extend the study to other hospitals in the near future.

1 MS Ireland


For media queries please contact:

Richard Magnier, MKC Communications
+353 1 703 8618

Notes to editor

Dr Brian Sweeney, Consultant Neurologist at Cork University Hospital, commented, “The relative homogeneity of the Irish population means it is easier to identify and study genetic variants amongst a test population. We’re very excited to be involved in this research: genome studies hold great potential to deliver improvements in the quality of life for future generations of people living with MS and many other major health conditions.”

The Study of Genomics

Genomics is the study of all of a person’s genes (the genome), including the interactions of those genes with each other and the person’s environment. Genomics has a critical role to play in the identification, prevention and treatment of disease and rare conditions, including the scientific study of complex diseases such as heart disease, asthma, diabetes, and cancer because these diseases are typically caused more by a combination of genetic and environmental factors than by individual genes.

About Genomics Medicine Ireland

Founded in 2015, Genomics Medicine Ireland (GMI) is an Irish life sciences company leading large-scale, population-based genome research studies on the island of Ireland examining the relationship between genetics, health and disease. It is building a preeminent disease-specific database of population genomics. GMI works in collaboration with clinicians, patients, academic researchers and global biotech and pharmaceutical sectors to discover pathways to new treatments and new diagnostics for people both here in Ireland and around the world.

Earlier this year, GMI announced a 15 year partnership with AbbVie (NYSE: ABBV), a global biopharmaceutical company) aimed at advancing the discovery and development of novel therapeutic approaches to a range of serious diseases.

GMI is currently undertaking genomic research into a range of diseases in collaboration with a number of Irish hospitals, such as: brain tumours with Beaumont Hospital; Rare Diseases with Temple Street Hospital; Inflammatory Bowel Disease with St. Vincent’s and Tallaght Hospitals; and the GenoFit study with UCD Institute for Sport and Health.

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis is a disease of the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system). The central nervous system acts like a switchboard sending electrical messages along the nerves to various parts of the body. These electrical messages instruct the body to perform various tasks, such as movement or thought.

Most healthy fibres are insulated by myelin, a fatty substance which aids the flow of messages. In MS, the myelin breaks down or becomes scarred. This distorts or even blocks the flow of messages, resulting in the many symptoms of MS. Many people explain MS like a faulty electrical flex on a kettle. If the insulating flex breaks, it exposes the wires underneath making them more vulnerable to damage.

The presence, severity and duration of all MS symptoms vary considerably from person to person. Some of the symptoms of MS are immediately obvious. Reduced mobility is often the most visually apparent. Other symptoms such as fatigue, changes in sensation, memory and concentration problems are often ‘hidden’ symptoms and can be difficult to explain to others.

Distributed by:

Richard Magnier, MKC Communications
The Archway, 4A Lower Pembroke Street Dublin 2, Ireland.
DD: +353 1 703 8618 | Mob: +353 86 467 0075 | Fax: +353 1 678 8331
Email: | Twitter (@RichieMagnier) | LinkedIn
Web: | Twitter (@MKCcomm) | LinkedIn

CMS Audited. Member Firm PRCA. Registered in Ireland No. 295370. Independent Partner in Ireland of Interel Global.

Record changed: 2017-12-22


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