Grant aids search for Restless Legs Syndrome treatment

From the Summer 2014 edition of Vanderbilt Medicine Magazine

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Photo by istockphoto.com

Vanderbilt University Medical Center has been selected as one of three sites to share a three-year, $1.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to explore the potential therapeutic properties of manganese, a chemical element and biologically essential trace mineral, in treating Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS).

“The goal of this work is to determine if changes in brain manganese levels affect Restless Legs Syndrome,” said Aaron Bowman, Ph.D., assistant professor of Neurology and co-principal investigator of the study. “If our hypothesis is correct, it will provide a new therapeutic target for treatment.”

The study will evaluate the relationship between a patient’s genetics and brain manganese levels. If successful, physicians could make individualized decisions about diagnoses and create treatment plans tailored to the biology of each patient.

RLS is characterized by a strong, overwhelming urge to move the affected limb; worsening symptoms at night and when lying down or resting; and a feeling of some relief with movement.