Scientists Discover Fragile X Disease

Published Online: Monday, March 1, 2004

Another major neurological disease has been added to the list for men over 50. Researchers at Chicago?s Rush University Medical Center have identified fragile X associated tremor/ataxia syndrome (FXTAS). The symptoms begin as tremors with balance problems and frequent falls, short-term memory loss, impotence, moodiness, anxiety, and loss of sensation in the feet.

A defective gene called fragile X causes the disease. It is more prevalent in men due to 1 X chromosome. Approximately 1 in 800 men carry the fragile X gene, and 20% to 50% of them will develop FXTAS. Fragile X is the result of a mutation of a gene in the X chromosome, and because females have 2 X chromosomes, they typically have 1 healthy gene to compensate, according to findings published in the American Medical Association (January 28, 2004).

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