July 15, 2011
A New Gene Identified For Restless Legs Syndrome
People suffering from restless legs syndrome (RLS) experience unpleasant sensations in the legs at night for which the only remedy is movement. Now, an international consortium from Europe, Canada and the US has identified new genetic risk factors for the disease. Carriers of these risk variants have an increased likelihood of developing RLS. This finding, which will be published on July 14th in the open-access journal PLoS Genetics, presents new opportunities for future research of this disorder.
RLS is amongst the most common neurological diseases. Patients suffer from an urge to move and paresthesia "“ tingling, prickling and numbness "“ in the legs, occurring mainly in the evening or at night when the body is at rest. These sensations may only be relieved by moving or walking around, which may result in severe sleeping disorders, chronic sleep loss and daytime fatigue. In severe cases the disease can lead to depression and social isolation. The frequency of RLS increases with age: up to ten per cent of those above 65 years of age are affected, albeit in very different forms. Children can, however, also contract the disease.
These findings enable further investigation into the underlying mechanisms, which is prerequisite to the development of new treatments.
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