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According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), the organization within the Federal Government responsible for conducting and supporting research on RLS, there are two areas currently being studied to improve the condition of RLS. They are:
- the possible role of dopamine function in RLS. Dopamine is a chemical messenger responsible for transmitting signals between one area of the brain, the substantia nigra, and the next relay station of the brain, the corpus striatum, to produce smooth, purposeful muscle activity.
- Research on pallidotomy, a surgical procedure in which a portion of the brain called the globus pallidus is lesioned, may contribute to a greater understanding of the pathophysiology of RLS and may lead to a possible treatment. A recent study by NINDS-funded researchers showed that a patient with RLS and Parkinson's disease benefited from a pallidotomy and obtained relief from the limb discomfort caused by RLS. Additional research must be conducted to duplicate these results in other patients and to learn whether pallidotomy would be effective in RLS patients who do not also have Parkinson's disease.