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Help us to understand the genetics of MS

Historically, most research into how genes influence the risk of MS has focussed on people of European ancestry. This has been tremendously successful. But we now know that MS affects people of all ancestral and ethnic backgrounds. It’s therefore essential that MS research reflects this diversity. What we learn from genetics today may shape the treatments and diagnostic tests of tomorrow, so our genetic understanding of MS needs to be representative of the whole population.

The MS Society is supporting and co-funding a study (the ADAMS study) at Queen Mary University of London to understand the genetic basis of MS in people from diverse ancestral backgrounds. The researchers hope to find out whether the genes that contribute to MS risk are the same or different for people of non-European ancestry, with a focus on people from African and South Asian backgrounds.

By finding genes that might increase the risk of MS in people from diverse ancestral backgrounds, it will help researchers to better understand the condition. It could lead to better treatments, and more personalised care for people with MS, especially those from non-European ancestries.

How do I get involved?

The researchers want to recruit up to 1000 people with MS across the UK who are from minority ethnic backgrounds. You can take part in our study if you identify as having non-European ancestry.

There are three steps:

  1. Signing up on our website -

  2. Answering some questions about yourself

  3. Sending us a saliva sample in the post (we’ll send you the kit and instructions)

You can do all this either from home or in person at one of our sites across the UK. To find out if there’s a site near you, please email the study team.

With your help we can take strides towards understanding the genetic basis of MS in under-represented ethnic groups.

How else can I help?

If you’re not able, or don’t want, to take part yourself, you can still help us by sharing the message. You could share information about the study on social media or talk about the study with any friends who have MS and may be interested.

Where can I find more details?