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Genome-Wide Association Study of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in Finland

The genetic etiology of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is not well understood. Finland has one of the highest incidence of ALS in the world, making it an ideal population for study. To identify genetic risk factors for this fatal neurodegenerative disease, we undertook a genome-wide association study of 405 Finnish patients diagnosed with ALS and 497 Finnish controls. Two loci that exceeded the Bonferroni threshold for genome-wide significance were identified. One was located on chromosome 21q22, corresponding to the known autosomal recessive D90A allele of the SOD1 gene. The other was detected on the short arm of chromosome 9, which had been previously identified in linkage studies of families with ALS. Together, these two loci account for most of the increased incidence of ALS observed in this population.