Genetics research is essential to the growth of our knowledge of RLS. Gaining a more thorough understanding of the extent to which RLS is heritable will help us to develop more sophisticated methods of treatment.
We employ a research method called Genome-Wide Association Study, or GWAS, to determine whether genetic variances are associated with particular traits, in this case, the existence of RLS. To date, five genes have been identified which hold variances that may be related to RLS. Additionally, the small family pedigree studies we conduct provide valuable identification of chromosomes related to RLS. The data we gain from GWAS and family pedigree studies does not provide treatment options in and of itself, but it points us in new directions for further research.
Now that we have identified several genes that are related to RLS, we seek to understand the dynamic relationship between these different gene products. If we can establish a relationship between the affected genes, then we can begin to understand the specific biological mechanisms that are unique to RLS. Our next step will be to explore that dynamic system for a specific point of pathology, then to develop potential interventions that might be used to change that system in a positive way.