STAT today is reporting on a "withering assault" by scientists debunking a headline-making study that claimed a genetic mutation greatly increases the risk of contracting a severe form of multiple sclerosis.
The study, published in the June issue of Neuron, claimed to identify a single malfunctioning gene called NR1H3 as the cause of primary progressive multiple sclerosis in some patients.
"This is by far the strongest connection ever found between any single genetic mutation and MS," wrote our genetics specialist, Dr. Barry Starr, in a post about the discovery.
About 60,000 people in the U.S. have PPMS, according to statistics from multiple sclerosis organizations. None of the therapies currently in use for multiple sclerosis have been shown to work for PPMS.
STAT's report says scientists looking at larger genetic databases had not found an association between NR1H3 and multiple sclerosis. One researcher published a failed attempt to replicate the original study in a non-peer-reviewed paper posted on the bioRxiv website.