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Does DNA or Genetic Sequencing Contribute to a Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis

Updated on February 25, 2019

I have been diagnosed with MS long enough now to have delved into the science of DNA or genetic sequencing a few times over the years. In my own unsophisticated way, I have often given thought to what role my DNA has played in my MS diagnosis. If you are the only one in your family diagnosed with MS - as I am, have you ever wondered how much your family tree played in your MS diagnosis? Is my diagnosis a result of faulty DNA or chromosomes? These are some of the questions I have often pondered.

Just for the sake of the argument, let’s say I truly am a victim of my inherited DNA and have some ancient mother’s - cousin’s - grandmother’s make-up that would explain my peculiar medical history. Am I then a fluke, a one in a million long-shot, who at the exact time of conception received only those strands of DNA that predestined me to my specific medical issues? If my DNA were dissected or unraveled and sequenced, would the findings show obvious MS chromosomal damage or at least some type of protein abnormality peculiar to MS, or would it reveal a familial link?

Here’s what I know

· No one in my family has MS, but me.

· Out of us three girls, I alone have high-blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol.

May I also add that all three of us sisters are over forty years of age which is, according to my doctor, the age for inherited familial illnesses to poke their heads above the covers and be seen by the unsuspecting. Yet, I alone am the one whose familial clock went off and set my other three “conditions” in motion. I am not the oldest and I am not the youngest, I am smack dab in the middle. Oh and my mother also shared my medical conditions, minus the MS.

· When it comes to physical features I am the hairiest of my immediate family. Where does one inherit the “hairy” gene? I’m dying for the answer to that question. Is it the same gene responsible for my MS?

· I am the tallest of the immediate family. My sisters are both 5’6, 5’7, before I started shrinking I was 5’81/2, now I am just 5’8 even. Just an observation, doubt it plays any role in coming down with MS, but who can say for sure?

· I DON’T have gray hair which in retrospect isn’t a complaint, just another strange occurrence because all the women in my family began turning gray in their early 40’s. Why am I different? Is it in some way connected to why I am the only one to contract MS?

I think I must have received my genes from my mom’s side of the family, since I was told I favor my maternal grandmother most. I suppose that means my two sisters inherited their basic DNA make-up from my dad’s side of the family. That’s not the best of news for me because my mom’s family doesn’t have the longevity that my dad’s family possesses, but I digress. Going back to that pesky MS diagnosis, to my knowledge no one on my grandmother’s side had anything that resembled MS. So is heredity and a faulty chromosome or two from her gene pool really to blame, or does the answer lie elsewhere?

Viral Component

If MS is due to some sort of virus, as is currently believed, why was I the only one exposed to the contaminant? We all ate the same food, drank the same water, played in the same outdoors and shared the same germs.

I suppose if my faulty chromosomes gave me a predisposition to MS, and if I came in contact with a virus that tripped the switch, I could end up where I am today. I would also have to suppose that my faulty chromosomes were a one-time only happening, since my sisters have no autoimmune disorders in their medical histories.


Toxic Metal Contamination (Iron)

Currently, the MS world is all a-buzz with the latest theory about a cure for MS.  It is based on the work of a doctor in Italy and is currently being gone over with a fine-toothed comb by the part of the medical establishment which specializes in treating and finding cures for MS. 

The problem referred to as CCSVI (Chronic Cerebro-Spinal Venous Insufficiency) hypothesizes that excessive iron build up causes MS. I have linked the page that proved easiest for me to read and understand. 

It totally makes sense to me, but time will tell if it holds up to scientific scrutiny. 

If it proves to have merit, I predict a flood of MS patients asking for the procedure that opens up the blockage which develops when a blood vessel thought to cause the iron and immune cells to cross the blood-brain barrier is unblocked.

 In theory, the leakage of iron and immune cells is what causes the myelin sheath to be damaged, because the leakage triggers the MS attacks. Once the damaged vessels are unblocked the iron leak is prevented and the body no longer attacks itself. If my understanding is correct.  

As the linked article mentions, the doctor had success in treating his own wife and has since treated 65 others with 73 percent remaining free of MS symptoms after 2 years. 

As terrified as I am of any type of medical procedure, I will gladly get in line to have this fix done to me, if it holds up to medical scrutiny.

Of course I would still wonder why I am the only one in the family with the faulty vessels and or arteries?


Is My Race a Determining Factor

The fact that I am African-American has some interesting statistics about what type of problems I can expect. Mostly that walking problems and wheelchair use would be greater with relapsing/remitting patients who are African-American.

I can’t say that I wholeheartedly embrace the theories, since it has taken me 15 years to begin experiencing walking issues.  According to statistics, my problems should have occurred much earlier on in my disease progression, based on race.

The racial statistics have no bearing on my family history either. The question of why I am the only one with MS remains unanswered.

Who I Want to Be

I have thought about it and I am sure I would like the answer to be connected with the excessive iron levels connected with CCSVI. Just imagine, MS could be cured not just treated. All we would need is to unclog a clogged vessel, which is a relatively safe procedure and viola no more MS.

While it might not provide the answer to why no one else in my family has MS, nor would it do anything about my bizarre hairiness, I could live with those unknowns if it meant being free of MS. This of course is who I would like to be – a person who is MS-free.



Self-Indulgent Rant

Obviously this is just one giant suppositional rant. Like it or not,  I’m a 5’8, 49 year old woman, with too much hair of which only a few strands are graying. Who has a whole bunch of MS in conjunction with other medical conditions, who is hoping CCSVI will provide a cure for MS.

I suppose when you get right down to it, I didn’t need 1,000 plus words to say what I just so neatly summed up in three sentences, but then I would not have gotten the chance to rant about being the only one in my family with this disease, and that wouldn’t have been as fun or as freeing.

Every once in a while it just feels good to whine and complain, get it out of your system, exhale and admit, “it sure felt good to get that out!”


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    • Jen's Solitude profile imageAUTHOR

      Jen's Solitude 

      11 years ago from Delaware

      Hi Laura, it is a pleasure to meet you. Thank you for your thoughtful comment, I appreciate it.

      I am surprised that your friend has been told he is going to die after having just received a MS diagnosis. Was he diagnosed with any other disease that would shorten his life in such a way? I ask because people who are newly diagnosed with MS are not usually told they have only six months to live.

      I hope there has been some sort of misunderstanding that has taken place. Please feel free to contact me by e-mail to discuss this further, as it is most unusual.

    • Laura Thykeson profile image

      Laura Thykeson 

      11 years ago from Central Texas

      Jen's Solitude,

      Your hubs caught my eye, as a close friend is 39 and just been diagnosed with MS. They told him he only has 6 months left to live! I know nothing about this disease, but you have helped me learn a little, and I truly appreciate that, more than you know!. I will be looking forward to reading more from you and keeping up with your progress. I came from a rather tough gene pool to overcome, and already suffer from heart disease, bipolar, and several other illnesses that are hereditary. My mother has passed on, but my father continually feels guilty about it, and I always have to reassure him that none of this is truly his fault.

      Thanks for the great hubs. You have gained a new fan!

    • Jen's Solitude profile imageAUTHOR

      Jen's Solitude 

      11 years ago from Delaware

      I'll be keeping my eyes opened for what is discovered about the treatment. Wouldn't that be something?

      Thanks for your positive vibes, as always! :-)

    • Paradise7 profile image


      11 years ago from Upstate New York

      God bless, especially if that Italian cure WORKS!!!! Let's hope so. And I don't think you were just aimlessly ranting. A person would HAVE to wonder, "Why me, amongst all the others?" And the info about the genetic contribution is very interesting. God bless, again, and I hope and pray for your cure.

    • Jen's Solitude profile imageAUTHOR

      Jen's Solitude 

      11 years ago from Delaware

      I appreciate you reading about my MS fastfreta, and thanks for leaving a comment!

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 

      11 years ago from Southern California

      Although I can't comment on your MS, because I know nothing about it, however I am enjoying your hubs. They are very enlightening and thought provoking. I look forward to reading more.

    • Jen's Solitude profile imageAUTHOR

      Jen's Solitude 

      11 years ago from Delaware

      Hi Keith, As parents it must be extra difficult for you to watch your young daughter struggle. I am not familiar with Turner's at all, but can understand the questions you ask, as you try to understand why it has afflicted her. I thank you for weighing in on this subject and for leaving a comment.

    • KeithTax profile image

      Keith Schroeder 

      11 years ago from Wisconsin

      DNA holds a special interest in my heart as my youngest daughter has Turner's. Her genetic make-up is called x iso Yp. Your feelings and questions are familiar to me; I've felt them myself. Turner's has never appeared on either side of the family and my wife and I have asked ourselves if race, poisons, environment, or disease played a role. The doctors assure us it was nothing we did. But we still ask the questions.

      I think most people ask serious questions about themselves as they get older; sooner if illness strikes. Your article is important and valuable. Thank you for sharing it.

    • Jen's Solitude profile imageAUTHOR

      Jen's Solitude 

      11 years ago from Delaware

      LOL, thank you ethel it does feel better getting that rant out of my system! ;-)

    • ethel smith profile image

      Ethel Smith 

      11 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Hope it feels a little better for getting all that off your chest :) Life is so strange and quirky isn't it?

      Good luck with the future treatment. Fingers crossed.

    • Jen's Solitude profile imageAUTHOR

      Jen's Solitude 

      11 years ago from Delaware

      Connie, if my writing is better it is because I have learned so much from my favorite writers, present company included. :-) Writing has always been a large part of my life, just not in this type of format. I have enjoyed writing more often and learning as I go. My sisters have amazing talents although they may not spend as much time writing as I do.

      Interesting about your sister, as a child I always wondered if my parents had just one more child, would I have had a sibling that I had more in common with.

      Thank you for your most kind comment, I appreciate it.

    • Jen's Solitude profile imageAUTHOR

      Jen's Solitude 

      11 years ago from Delaware

      Good morning Sue, what an interesting comment you left for me. Thinking back, I do remember my mom stating she was under a lot of stress when she was carrying me. My father did not make it easy for her and she even recalled one particular time when she became afraid of the way my dad was driving and I responded by tightening up in her womb. She said it took a long time before I "relaxed". Of course that incident wasn't at the beginning of her pregnancy, but the stress was ongoing lasting even after my birth. Interesting observations Sue, thank you for sharing them with me.

    • Connie Smith profile image

      Connie Smith 

      11 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida

      I continue to be amazed by your writing. It just keeps getting better with each article -- or maybe it is just that the confidence level is higher and you've had this level of talent all along. At any rate, I wonder if either of your sisters have the same talent for writing as you do. I have been amazed for some years now over genetics, as I have an older sister (from my dad's first marriage) who I didn't grow up with. Some of the similarities were hair raising and I do believe that we have more of those similarities than the sisters that I was raised with. It is all so very interesting.

      Whether this doctor has come up with the cure for MS or not, I believe that the cure to many diseases are close at hand due to the study of DNA and genetics. Keep your faith for I believe that it is well founded.

    • emohealer profile image

      Sioux Ramos 

      11 years ago from South Carolina


      What an interesting article and the studies you have done. Your questions are quite intriguing and if I may address them hopefully brief. Everything is DNA!!! So why do we all turn out so different, even with the same parental input? Like you, I am the only one in my family with so many features, that only I have, not all to complain about of course, I am the oldest and yet have the least gray hair. Everyone else is tall and I did not inherit that. Each of our DNA is made at the time of our conception and how it develops and what becomes predominant is determined in the womb. DNA can and does change, it can "learn", that is how we are born with immunities distinct to our heritage and are not born with immunities for things our ancestors were not exposed to. So, your unique DNA formation had everything to do with what was transpiring in your parents life at the time of your conception and what became predominant was determined over the next few months of gestational direct contrast to whatever your parents were exeperiencing at that time in their lives.

      Whatever was happening at that time was unique to that time frame only, it could have been a time of challenge and growth or maybe there is not even anything significant they can recall at that time period in their lives.

      Ultimately all of mankind is DNA related going back to one single set of parents for all of us, so there is a recessive gene to be found everywhere.

      Most of all I am hopeful for you and other friends and everyone suffering from this particular disorder that this Dr. has indeed discovered the cure. Love and Light, Sue


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