Genetics may play a larger role in causing amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) than previously believed, potentially accounting for more than one third of all cases, according to a new study.

The study, published online in the Annals of Neurology, also showed that patients with defects in two or more ALS-associated genes experience disease onset about 10 years earlier than patients with single-gene mutations.

For the study, researchers from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, California, and Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, used new techniques known as pooled DNA sequencing to comprehensively sequence 17 known ALS genes in 391 patients with ALS from the United States.

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