SYDNEY, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- An international collaborative study, including researchers from Australia's University of Queensland, has identified a gene associated with motor neuron disease in people with Chinese ancestry.
The study has confirmed that the NEK1 gene, which was reported last year as being important in the onset of the disease in people of European ancestry, is also likely to be a factor for some Chinese people suffering from the condition, the university's Professor Naomi Wray, who was involved in the research, told Xinhua on Tuesday.
Motor neurone disease, which is also known as Lou Gehrig's disease in the United States after the famous baseball player who died of it, is a progressive, terminal neurological condition that can affect a patient's ability to walk, eat and breathe as the muscles weaken and waste away. People usually live about two to three years after they are diagnosed with the disease. In Australia, two people are diagnosed with it each day.
Most research focuses on the strongly familial form of motor neurone disease, but about 90 percent of people suffering from the condition have no family history of it, said Wray.
"This research is really trying to broaden our research base ... it's just a small step on the way, but the importance of this discovery is that it really provides more evidence that NEK1 is a gene that's worth studying."
The latest study, which was published in the Genome Medicine scientific journal, focused on the most common form of the disease, known as sporadic MND. Key research collaboration also included the Peking University Third Hospital in Beijing. Enditem