NZ Multiple Sclerosis
What is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic inflammatory condition affecting the central nervous system. It is thought to be the most common cause of disability among young New Zealanders although the exact number of people living with MS is not currently known.
What causes MS?
It is not yet known what causes MS, but we do know that the number of people within the population who have MS (i.e. “the prevalence”) varies significantly between countries and even between different geographical locations within the same country.
MS is thought to result from a complex interplay between both genetic and environmental factors. It has been shown that people with certain sorts of ancestry can be more prone to MS, and that other types of ancestral heritage can protect groups from developing MS.
However, genes on their own do not cause MS; environmental factors also seem to play a role. One possible environmental factor that has particular relevance to New Zealanders is the amount of sunshine a person is exposed to during childhood.
The MS prevalence study
To find out more about MS in New Zealand, a team of researchers from the Universities of Otago and Canterbury are carrying out a national prevalence study in conjunction with the MS Society of NZ.
What will the study tell us?
It is hoped that through a better understanding of the genetic and environmental factors associated with MS, researchers will be able to plan research into potential therapies or preventive strategies for people at risk of developing MS.
Secondly, by gaining a deeper insight into the true impact of MS we will be better able to make recommendations for the allocation of resources, planning of services, provision of support and availability of treatment for people with MS in NZ.