They lead to discover the ancestral profile of multiple sclerosis in Puerto Rico


Catherine Trujillo Useche

Latin Agency for Medicine and Public Health News

In an exclusive interview for Medicine and Public Health (MSP), dr. Ángel Chinea, a prominent Puerto Rican neurologist, spoke about the scientific advances found for patients with multiple sclerosis.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the brain and spinal cord that can lead to disability. With the advent of the pandemic, it was a little more complicated to treat the patients, but the specialist committed to his patients developed several strategies to continue helping people suffering from this disease.

Genetic studies conducted in Puerto Rico have revealed the types of genes that predominate in the Puerto Rican population, especially of European ancestors of up to 75% (for example, variants to the HLA DR 1501 gene group), which may predict predisposition. Genetics of MS, because it is not a hereditary disease, but there are several polygenetic factors that make the disease heterogeneous.

Likewise, in the ancestral order that could be influencing the onset of the condition in Puerto Rican, it would be of Indian origin (13%) and subsequently African (12-15%), according to the data provided to the medium by Drs.

“Genetics start from knowing what the genetic map is, what we want to see is if there are differences between the Hispanics, Puerto Ricans, which can be identified from other populations, in this case Hispanics. With this we can have markers of the disease Markers that tell us what the risk will be.The disease is permanent, long-term, so what we want to see is some markers that can give us an idea of ​​what we will do with the patient, what type of medication because it May be a not so aggressive medication.

What the expert hopes with the different studies is to find biological markers and clinical markers that differentiate the type of disease in the patient. The doctor advises that those who have the disease and want to be part of the different studies can register on the page of the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation.

Puerto Rico on the genetic map

“When they are new patients, we have prepared two cabs where everything is aseptic and we send the patient to be able to see him in person. Since it is very difficult to evaluate someone you do not know from afar, and more than important, A neurological examination is necessary.The number of cases per week is still between 2 to 3 new cases per week.And during the pandemic, we call patients who are new, it is seen that the number is maintained, it would be 6 Or 8 cases per month, ”explains Dr. China.

The specialist tells how in some populations there is no multiple sclerosis, because in some indigenous tribes, due to diet or genetics, they do not get the disease. The physician and his team conducted a genetic study of indigenous people to identify why the population was not contracted with the disease and after evaluating the results they reached this conclusion.

The prevalence of multiple sclerosis in Puerto Rico has put the island on a map of epidemiology of the disease. The doctor explained that this was possible because there had been good epidemiological studies in reputable journals.

“We have a registry that we can worldwide our own nation has a registry, and that has a law that requires that all patients with multiple sclerosis should be registered. And that means we have all the data of our patients, which shows that in this “There are many cases of multiple sclerosis and it is not believed that this was the case because we are in the tropics,” said Dr.

With these data, it is possible to perform different studies in United States, and this makes doctors happy, because thanks to the records and the possibility to be on the epidemiological map, many people wonder why there are so many people in Puerto Rico suffering from Multiple sclerosis. In other words, the visibility of the disease worldwide and its existence on the island is achieved.