Researchers believe they may have discovered a possible cause of a mysterious condition that could leave sufferers suddenly unable to walk, speak, or see.
It is hoped that the study – led by York University School of Medicine and Hull York College and with support from Tees, Esk and the Wear Valley NHS Trust – will pave the way for new treatments for the conversion disorder affecting about 800,000 people in the UK alone.
The condition, also known as functional neurological disorder (FND), causes physical symptoms that may appear neurotic but doctors cannot find an injury or physical condition to explain them.
Professor Christina van der Weltz-Cornels from the Department of Health Sciences is leading the CANDO Monitoring Study. This pilot study is the first in a research program to explore how it might cause conversion disorder / FND, and to develop and evaluate new therapies.
The first results suggest that the conversion disorder could be the result of a low-grade inflammatory process that affects gene expression, the process by which the instructions in our DNA are converted into a functional product, such as a protein. Protein does most of the work in cells and is essential for the structure, function, and regulation of tissues and organs of the body.
Professor Van der Weltz Cornelis said: ‘This is a very difficult situation for people to live with and it is a situation that is often overlooked because the medical profession does not have the answers.
People who live with the condition can become very distressed and isolated, and they often lose jobs and social networks through their inability to communicate or feel unwell. Patients may also have problems with memory and concentration. ”
“We came to this finding by examining levels of inflammation in blood samples taken from patients with FND that mimic stroke-like symptoms. They were found to be higher than normal. Levels of microRNA in the blood also appear to play a role and this affects expression.” Genetic in the cell. ”
“These preliminary results deserve further exploration and replication in larger samples before we can draw firm conclusions.”
CANDO researchers hope the new study will help develop new therapies, because previous treatments given to people with conversion disorder haven’t often helped relieve symptoms.
“It’s a relief to suddenly discover that there may be a cause for this condition,” says Annie, a patient who participated in the CANDO study. “I can’t wait for treatments that might be developed as a result of this work.”
The paper, “Cytokine and microRNA assessment and patient-related outcome measures in conversion disorder / functional neurological disorder (CD / FND): a CANDO Clinical Feasibility Study” is published in the journal, Brain, Behavior, and Immunology – Health.
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