Combining various kinds of data for more knowledge about MS

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Ingrid Kockum is researching into multiple sclerosis, MS, and is leading the major international collaboration MultipleMS. By combining many different types of data, the project will generate increased knowledge on various types of MS and how to better adapt the treatment to different patient groups.

Ingrid Kockum, foto: Creo Media Group.Ingrid Kockum wants to understand the interplay between genetics and environmental factors in the origins of autoimmune diseases. Currently, her research targets multiple sclerosis, MS. She is the Coordinator for an international consortium, Multiple¬MS, which was established in 2017, with 21 collaboration partners in Europe and the USA. The project has been granted almost 15 million Euros and will cover around 30,000 patients. 

“In MultipleMS we are endeavouring to link together different types of data such as genetics, epigenetics, immunology, proteo¬mics and lifestyle factors in order to understand more about the disease,” Ingrid Kockum explains. 

One purpose of the project is to be able to identify the various subgroups of MS. 

“We believe that there are a number of different reasons why people get the disease, and why they benefit from different treat¬ments. Today there are a number of new disease modifying drugs which are giving good results in early MS,” Ingrid Kockum points out, “but more knowledge is needed on how to optimise the new treatments, and what their long-term effects are.” 

The MultipleMS study is also trying to identify the genes that control the severity of the disease presumably these genes are different to those that affect the risk of getting the disease. 

“We also hope that dividing into subgroups will provide clues as to the biological processes and what the disease is basically due to – something that is still unknown,” comments Ingrid Kockum.
 
Her research group also conducts research on topics outside the framework of MultipleMS. One example is an ongoing study on the link between the herpes virus EBV and MS.

Ingrid Kockum 

Professor of Genetic Epidemiology specialising in multiple sclerosis at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience

Ingrid Kockum was born in 1967 and grew up just outside Ystad. She studied cellular and molecular biology at Cambridge University graduating in 1989, and obtained her PhD at KI in 1995. In 1997, she was a visiting scientist at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, Oxford University. 

In 2002 Ingrid Kockum was appointed Group Leader at KI in the Department of Molecular Medicine, and in 2006 transferred to the Department of Clinical Neuroscience. She became an Associate Professor in 2007.  On 1 July 2016, Ingrid Kockum was appointed Professor of Genetic Epidemiology specialising in multiple sclerosis at Karolinska Institutet.

Text: Anders Nilsson, translated from Swedish, first published in “From Cell to Society” 2017.

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