As many as one in ten people of European ancestry is affected by restless legs syndrome, in which sufferers feel an overwhelming urge to move, often in conjunction with unpleasant sensations, usually in the legs. Rest and inactivity provoke the symptoms, whereas movement can lead to temporary relief. The condition is chronic and can get progressively worse, with long-lasting effects on patients' mental and physical health. People with restless legs syndrome have substantially impaired sleep, reduced overall quality of life, and increased risk of depression, anxiety disorders, hypertension, and, possibly, cardiovascular disease.
For around one in 50 people, the condition can be severe enough to require chronic medication, which may in turn have potentially serious side effects.
Studies - Families - Twins - Component - Disorder
Studies of families and twins have shown that there is a strong genetic component to the disorder and led to the discovery of six genetic variants that increased the risk of developing the condition.
"We have studied the genetics of restless legs syndrome for more than 10 years and the current study is the largest conducted so far," says Dr Barbara Schormair from the Institute of Neurogenomics at the Helmholtz Zentrum München, first author of the study. "We are convinced that the newly discovered risk loci will contribute substantially to our understanding of the causal biology of the disease."
Team - Researchers - Data - Patients - Controls
Now, an international team of researchers has compared the genetic data from over 15,000 patients with more than 95,000 controls, and identified a further 13 genetic risk variants. The findings were then replicated in a sample of 31,000 patients and 287,000 controls. The results are published in Lancet Neurology.
"Restless legs syndrome is surprisingly common, but despite this, we know little about what causes it -- and hence how to treat it," says Dr Steven Bell from the Department of Public Health and Primary...
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