In this medical health video Dr. William Lawson of Howard University explains how genes and heredity affect your risk of developing bipolar disorder.
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Jennifer Matthews: Janik's son is his pride and joy, but this dad isn't as carefree as most. Janik Pawlik: I can't do the things that all the fathers may do like, I don't give him paybacks. Jennifer Matthews: Janik has MS. His immune system attacks his nervous system and makes simple things like walking difficult. Janik Pawlik: It changes how you perceive yourself and what things you think you can have, you get scared of living and scared of dying at the same time. Jennifer Matthews: MS affects 300,000 Americans. Researchers have spent decades trying to figure out what causes it. Dr. Johnathan Haines: We've all been very frustrated by how slow a process it's been. Jennifer Matthews: Now for the first time in 30 years, they've identified a new gene that's involved in MS. It's called IL7R, having a variation of the gene increases a person's risk of MS by 30%. Dr. Johnathan Haines: It was very exciting to us to actually make this breakthrough. Jennifer Matthews: Here is how they did it. Researchers took blood samples from thousands of patients with and without MS. Robot separated out the DNA and made a hundreds of copies of it. Computer software help researchers determine which groups had which genes. Dr. Johnathan Haines: What it does is open up a whole new avenue for research to try to identify new targets. Jennifer Matthews: Patients could be tested for the gene and put on treatments earlier. Also therapies could be designed to target the genetic defect. Janik is excited about the research. Janik Pawlik: And it may not benefit ever, but maybe my son or the next generation. Jennifer Matthews: Making the future a little brighter for everyone. This is Jennifer Matthews reporting.