AdobeStock 122356836Do people with tremor live longer?

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 now have the means to address this using ‘telomeres’ extracted from your salivary cell DNA.

The telomere is a section of DNA present at the end of chromosomes in all of us. In general, the longer the telomere the longer the life span. Thus, we would like to determine whether people with familial ET (FET) have longer telomeres than expected. Also, our earlier work suggested that some people with FET have a superior sense of smell implying that they might be biologically ‘fitter’. 

Plan. Ethical approval has been obtained from the Queen Mary Ethics of Research Committee. Our target number of volunteers is 12 with typical FET. So far we have 7 – so we require another 5 to complete the study. We would like to measure FET telomere length and compare with 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 would also like to measure your ability to identify 40 different odours from scratch and sniff pads (University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test)

What would happen if I am interested in taking part? We will give you a detailed explanation of what is involved and 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

These are the inclusion criteria:

1.Clinically definite Familial Essential tremor 

2.Tremor onset less than 30y with evidence of family history 

3.Family history of tremor: i.e. one or more sibling with ET. Or: one or more parent (alive or not) with ET. Or: one or more child with ET

4.Upper age limit 70y of either gender

5.No co-existing disorder such as: parkinsonism, multiple sclerosis, malignancy or immune disorder; cognitive disorder; smell problems or current nasal disease.

If you would like more information, please email Prof Chris Hawkes:

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