Most common autoimmune diseases, including MS, have a latitude gradient in their occurrence, where the further from the equator you are, the more likely you are to develop disease. This is thought to relate to the amount of UV light you are exposed to and therefore how much vitamin D you can make in your skin. Many autoimmune diseases also have similar genetic changes, and some of these shared genes are associated with how the body deals with vitamin D. This points to the importance of the vitamin D pathway in the development of some autoimmune diseases. Yet giving people with MS vitamin D supplements in clinical trials has produced mixed results.
Professor David Booth and his team have previously shown that this is probably because the form of vitamin D used in many trials requires activation in the body before it can have its effects. The genes controlling the activation of this vitamin D may be faulty or inefficient in some people with MS, which could therefore limit the response to oral vitamin D supplements.
Currently there is no way to assess a person’s response to vitamin D. This project aims to develop such a test, and to demonstrate that supplementation with active vitamin D avoids the faulty inactivation in MS, providing better protection from disease.
This research will help to ensure that vitamin D supplementation can be tailored to an individual’s specific genetic make-up and the most effective treatment for every individual with MS.
Updated: 23 January 2019
Updated: 05 January, 2019
Laboratory research that investigates scientific theories behind the possible causes, disease progression, ways to diagnose and better treat MS.
Research that builds on fundamental scientific research to develop new therapies, medical procedures or diagnostics and advances it closer to the clinic.
Clinical research is the culmination of fundamental and translational research turning those research discoveries into treatments and interventions for people with MS.