Research in Ireland
The team at St. Vincentís University Hospital are searching for abnormalities in the genes in dystonia. If you have dystonia and you would like to ask questions about research or become involved, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message on the following number with your name and address/e-mail (01-2094146).
Primary torsion dystonia, the commonest form of dystonia, has been very difficult for scientists to study. It causes spasms and sometimes tremor. Voluntary movement can be more difficult, and be very painful, disproportionate to the degree of movement. What is the abnormality which causes dystonia?
Research has shown that the problem area in dystonia is within a discrete area of the brain: the basal ganglia Ė a complex and poorly understood circuit. When one looks at the brain, examined by MRI or under the microscope, its appearance is normal. It is hard to know where to start This is where the integration of impulses from the surface of the brain are filtered and organised to provide useful controlled movements of all areas of the body.
Our understanding of dystonia can be empowered by further research, and in Ireland a big contribution can be made to helping understand dystonia. It is very difficult to find something unless one looks, and currently Prof. Michael Hutchinson and his team in St. Vincentís University Hospital, Dublin, are attempting to further this quest.
Their research aims to provide valuable understanding through looking at disorders of sensory processing, possible genetic association factors, activity in brain pathways and chemical changes by finding responsible genes. Humans have over 100,000 genes in each cell (the building block of life), and various ones are turned on in different parts of our body, including the brain. To find the right gene would be like turning on a light in a dark room; with potential to turn off the dystonia switch.
Click here to read an overview of current research projects.