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News Briefing, Webcast and Satellite Feed to Announce Medical Discovery; Genetic Screening Recommended to Detect Newly Identified Neurological Disorder In Men Over Age 50.

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Jan. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- A team of researchers, led by physicians at the UC Davis M.I.N.D Institute, have identified a new neurological disorder that predominantly affects men over age 50 and results in tremors, balance problems and memory problems that become increasingly severe with age. The disorder appears later in life in men who are generally healthy throughout childhood and early-to-mid-adulthood, yet is caused by a defect in a gene known to cause mental retardation in future generations.

Researchers began looking for a connection between children and their grandfathers because the mothers of fragile X patients were worried about their own fathers, who were falling down, becoming forgetful and experiencing other neurological problems.

A significant but unknown number of adults with these symptoms are being misdiagnosed with Parkinson's disease, senile dementia and Alzheimer's disease when their condition may be accurately and easily identified with a standard DNA blood test ordered by their doctor.

Nearly 1 in 800 men in the general population carries this premutation in the fragile X gene, and UC Davis research suggests that as many as 30 percent of carriers -- roughly 1 in 3,000 men -- may develop FXTAS later in life.

Screening for the gene mutation in men who have tremor and balance problems is important regardless of their family history, especially when accompanied by other signs such as parkinsonism (rigidity in movement), short-term memory loss and dementia.

A detailed news release with links to graphics, brain images and other press materials are available at http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/ . A special telephone line at the UC Davis MIND Institute, 916-703-0200, has been set up to allow patients and physicians who request more information to leave a message. Additional information about Fragile X and FXTAS is also available at the National Fragile X Foundation (http://fragilex.org/ 1-800-688-8765).
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CONTACT: Jennifer Conradi, +1-916-734-9064, or pager, +1-916-762-0860 or jennifer.conradi@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu of U.C. Davis Health System; or UC Davis School of Medicine and Medical Center Public Affairs office, +1-916-734-9040

Web site: http://www.news.ucdavis.edu/

Web site: http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/

Web site: http://fragilex.org/
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Date:Jan 28, 2004
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