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UCSF-led team discovers cause of rare disease
Date:12/16/2011

A large, international team of researchers led by scientists at the University of California, San Francisco has identified the gene that causes a rare childhood neurological disorder called PKD/IC, or "paroxysmal kinesigenic dyskinesia with infantile convulsions," a cause of epilepsy in babies and movement disorders in older children.

The study involved clinics in cities as far flung as Tokyo, New York, London and Istanbul and may improve the ability of doctors to diagnose PKD/IC, and it may shed light on other movement disorders, like Parkinson's disease.

The culprit behind the disease turns out to be a mysterious gene found in the brain called PRRT2. Nobody knows what this gene does, and it bears little resemblance to anything else in the human genome.

"This is both exciting and a little bit scary," said Louis Ptacek, MD, who led the research. Ptacek is the John C. Coleman Distinguished Professor of Neurology at UCSF and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.

Discovering the gene that causes PKD/IC will help researchers understand how the disease works. It gives doctors a potential new way of definitively diagnosing the disease by looking for genetic mutations in the gene. The work may also shed light on other conditions that are characterized by movement disorders, including possibly Parkinson's disease.

"Understanding the underlying biology of this disease is absolutely going to help us understand movement disorders in general," Ptacek said.

About the Disease

PKD/IC strikes infants with epileptic seizures that generally disappear within a year or two. However, the disease often reemerges later in childhood as a movement disorder in which children suffer sudden, startling, involuntary jerks when they start to move. Even thinking about moving is enough to cause some of these children to jerk involuntarily.

The disease is rare, and Ptacek estimates strikes about one o
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Contact: Jason Socrates Bardi
jason.bardi@ucsf.edu
415-502-6397
University of California - San Francisco
Source:Eurekalert  

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