We need to understand some basic information before discussing Dr. Hillstrand’s lecture.
An antibody also known as an immunoglobulin, is a large Y-shaped protein produced by B-cells for the immune system to protect us from bacteria and viruses. Some how with MS the immune system is misdirected and seems to attack the myelin sheath, the fatty tissue surrounding the nerves.
Wikipedia describes exactly what the genome is. In modern molecular biology and genetics, the genome is the entirety of an organism’s hereditary information encoded in DNA. The genome includes both the genes and the non-coding sequences of the DNA/RNA.
Another important piece of information to understand is the human leukocyte antigen (HLA). The Free dictionary tells us:
Leukocyte is the name for white blood cells
Antigen refers to a genetic marker
Free Dictionary also explains that the human leukocyte antigen is a substance that is located on the surface of white blood cells. This substance plays an important role in the body’s immune response.
The question is how do those places on the genome unlock to be manipulated.
Virus to trigger MS
Dr. Hillstrand explained that we only know one. The one of the 5 that we know about is that prior to the age of 15 those with MS had a viral infection of some sort. The offending virus is unknown at this time.
The virus changes the genes in the genome to allow them to be susceptible to develop MS.
Dr. Hillstrand explained the importance of human leukocyte antigen HLA-B * 15. She said HLA-B * 15 is responsible for making the switch to allow susceptibility to MS. Researchers are developing tests for the HLAB*15 which allows the genome to be manipulated. The depth of the HLAB*15 in the genome will tell how bad the MS is going to be.
Indigenous people have a specific HLA-B format and they are resistant to this manipulation of the genome. People with Northern European Heritage have HLA-B * 15 so that’s where the northern latitude piece comes in.
Vitamin D stabilizes the genes on the genome so they don’t open up, it doesn’t flip that HLAB. It’s been suggested that maintaining adequate levels of vitamin D may have a protective effect and lower the risk of developing multiple sclerosis.
Can children be tested?
Not yet. It’s right around the corner explained Dr. Hillstrand. This testing is being done on humans right now.
A lot of this information is collected from the Scandinavian countries of Finland and Norway where the HLA testing is being done.
Everyone needs to take Vitamin D to stabilize the genome so it doesn’t flip the HLA or human leukocyte antigen.
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