Scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill may have identified the genetic basis underlying essential tremor disease, the most common human movement disorder.
The discovery comes from studies involving a strain of genetically altered mice that show the same types of tremor and similar lack of coordination as people affected by essential tremor. This animal model of the disease might prove useful for screening potential treatments, said Dr. A. Leslie Morrow, associate director of UNCs Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies and professor of psychiatry and pharmacology in UNCs School of Medicine. "We believe that these mice could explain one etiology, or origin, of essential tremor disease in humans because of the marked similarities between the mouse model and the human disease," said Morrow, who led the study team.
A report of the findings will appear in the March issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation. An estimated 5 million Americans are affected by essential tremor, a neurological disease characterized by an uncontrollable shaking of the limbs, in particular the arms and head. Unlike resting tremor associated with Parkinsons disease, symptoms of essential tremor are noticeable during movement, such as lifting a cup of coffee. The causes of essential tremor disease remain unknown, and current therapies are either partially effective or carry undesirable side effects.
Leslie H. Lang | EurekAlert!
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