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Investigators Recruiting Hispanics/Latinos with MS: Do Genetics and Culture Affect MS Severity?

September 5, 2017

Summary: Investigators are actively recruiting 400 Hispanics/Latinos who have been diagnosed with MS within the last five years to participate in a study examining the impact of genetics and cultural perceptions on disease severity. The primary investigator, Lilyana Amezcua, MD, MS, at The Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, is funded by a research grant from the National MS Society. Other study sites include the University of Miami, University of New Mexico and Caribbean Neurological Center in Puerto Rico.
Rationale: People of Hispanics/Latin descent in the U.S. are diverse in culture and genetic background. Finding socio-cultural or genetic factors that affect MS in this population is important, since some of these factors are modifiable. Integration into a new way of life and culture, a process known as acculturation, is a stressful life event that has been shown to increase the chances of engaging in unhealthy behaviors that could make MS worse. Now, this group is attempting to identify such factors.
How to get involved: Participants will have to visit one of the study sites. Participation involves answering questionnaires about acculturation and perception about their condition, watching a short film about MS, and providing a blood sample that will be analyzed for ancestry. The researchers will assess whether Asian, Native American, European or African genetic markers in the DNA influence disease severity. Participants will be followed for two years.
Contact: People who are interested in being a part of this study can contact the nearest site:

University of Southern California MS Center
Los Angeles, CA
Coordinator: Andrea C. Martinez, MPH
University of Miami
Miami, FL
Coordinator: Patricia Manrique

Caribbean Neurological Center
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Coordinator: Ramon Vega
(787) 793-7984

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Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. There is currently no cure for MS. Symptoms vary from person to person and range from numbness and tingling, to mobility challenges, blindness and paralysis. An estimated 1 million people live with MS in the United States. Most people are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, and it affects women three times more than men.

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