Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have hailed a breakthrough discovery which could help slow down or stop diseases such as multiple sclerosis and cancer.
The scientists have found the genetic ‘brakes’ that could stop the growth of tumours and enable the growth of healthy cells.
The growth of cells which can cause the illnesses was previously thought to have been controlled by a select group of ‘master’ genes, but the new study revealed that there are actually hundreds of genes which interact with each other.
The researchers said they believed variations in this network explained why people could develop diseases in different ways, and hope that their findings could also lead to new treatments for such illnesses.
Lead researcher Professor David Hume said: ‘This study has effectively shown us where the brakes are which could slow down or stop diseases like cancer and multiple sclerosis.
‘We believe this could lead to treatments and cures for many diseases of the immune system.’
The findings are published in the journal Nature Genetics.