The mechanism behind the fainting disorder dubbed ‘Wiggles Disease’ has been discovered by Monash University researchers.
People suffering from Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) have difficulty standing up, particularly from a lying-down position, when the volume of blood returning to the heart is greatly reduced. Symptoms can include feeling light-headed, fainting, fatigue and slurred speech. Interestingly, eighty per cent of those with the condition are women.
Greg Page AM, the “Yellow Wiggle,” left the popular children’s music group in late 2006 for some years after developing symptoms associated with POTS.
While the gene implicated in POTS has been known for several decades, past research has failed to find a genetic mutation responsible for causing the condition’s symptoms.
Now Monash Central Clinical School (CCS) investigators Professor Sam El-Osta and then-PhD student Abdul Waleed Khan have discovered chemical markers that affect the gene implicated in POTS, along with a repressor protein that is critical in turning the gene off.
In another exciting development, the researchers, collaborating with the Baker Institute’s Professor Murray Esler, demonstrated that the gene could be re-activated by using the FDA approved drug Vorinostat.
“The rationale behind our research into POTS was to understand the regulatory mechanism [and] to piece together some of the key molecules involved in gene reactivation,” Professor El-Osta said.
“The drug we used in the study targets specific molecules in the cell to restore gene function.”
POTS is a relatively rare condition but the findings may have far wider application and the team have begun investigating its potential in relation to high blood pressure, panic disorder and depressive illness.
Read more about the research findings here. Story credit: Monash University newsroom.
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