iStock 88613773 tremorVolunteers required

Background to this proposal. The idea that essential tremor might be associated with long life was proposed way back in 1922 by Minor but it has never been resolved completely. We may now have the means to address this using ‘telomeres’ extracted from your salivary cells.

The telomere is a section of DNA present at the end of chromosomes in all animals. In general, the longer the telomere the longer the life span. There is evidence from animal experiments that some strains with involuntary movement have increased life span.  Thus, we would like to determine whether people with familial Essential Tremor (FET) have longer telomeres than expected.

Also, our earlier work suggested that some people with Familial Essential Tremor have a superior sense of smell implying that they might be biologically ‘fitter’.

Plan. Ethical approval is being sought from the Queen Mary Ethics of Research Committee. Once obtained, we would invite 12 volunteers with typical FET, measure their telomere length and compare them with their 12 healthy partners or non-blood related family members e.g. in-laws. Telomere length is measured by extracting DNA from cells normally present in saliva. We will also measure your ability to identify 40 different odours from a scratch and sniff pad (University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test)

What would happen if I am interested in taking part? We plan to interview people with Familial Essential Tremor and their partners at the AGM of the National Tremor Foundation meeting on June 16th. You must have Familial Essential Tremor to take part. It would be most helpful if you could bring along your medical records, especially those concerned with tremor diagnosis. We will give you a detailed explanation of what is involved and you could ask as many questions as you like now, by email or on the day. You would be asked to sign an information and consent form. If you agree to participate there are virtually no risks we can think of. 

We require two samples:

  1. 2ml (half a teaspoon) of saliva in a special test tube
  2. Completion of the smell identification test

Analysis would be totally confidential and we will only analyse your telomere length, no other DNA examination will be performed

If you would like to take part or require more information, please email Prof Chris Hawkes: 

Hope you can help!

Research team: Professor Chris Hawkes, Professor Tom Vulliamy, Professor Leslie Findley, Professor Gavin Giovannoni.  We work at the Neuroscience/ Molecular Biology and Neuroimmunology Units, Blizard Institute, Queen Mary University of London and (LJF) at Neurology Department, Queens Hospital, Romford