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Is Motion Sickness Genetic? 23andMe Isolates Responsible Gene

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Motion sickness could be genetically based, according to biotechnology and genomics company 23andMe. Feelings of nausea while in moving vehicles is experienced, at times, by around one-third of all people.

Motion sickness can result in feelings of queasiness and unease. The condition is more common among children and women than adult males. Medical researchers are uncertain what causes these feelings, although systems in the inner ear are known to play a role. The best understanding researchers have today involves conflicting signals in the brain.

"Your brain senses movement by getting signals from your inner ears, eyes, muscles and joints. When it gets signals that do not match, you can get motion sickness. For example, down below on a boat, your inner ear senses motion, but your eyes cannot tell you are moving," the National Institutes of Health stated.

Most people with motion sickness are advised to breathe deeply, and look at the horizon. However, these practices are usually not enough to relieve the condition in most people.

It has long been recognized that motion sickness tends to run in families, with up to 70 percent of risk being inherited. However, the genetic underpinnings of motion sickness are still little understood by health professionals, although this new study has discovered new information.

"We've identified 35 genetic associations with motion sickness that fall into a few different biological categories. Some genetic variants are in or near genes involved in development, including development of the eye and ear. Other variants appear to be involved in neurological processes as well as glucose and insulin regulation," Bethann Hromatka from 23andMe, said.
 
The organization 23andMe derives its name from the number of chromosomes in the human body. Research was conducted utilizing genetic records of 80,000 people participating in the 23andMe project.

Unusual associations were found between motion sickness and other disorders. Participants who handle stress well, as well as those with a good sense of direction, were found to have a lower instance of motion sickness. People who regularly experience headaches after drinking red wine were found to be more likely to experience motion sickness. Motion sickness was discovered to share genetic variations in common with both migraine headaches and postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV). However, investigators are uncertain which characteristic is responsible for the other, or if both are the result of a third cause.

Analysis of the data also reveals the importance of blood glucose levels in feelings of motion sickness. It is possible that correlations with conditions such as unhealthy sleep patterns could assist researchers in developing diagnostic methods and treatments for motion sickness and other disorders.

Study of the role of genetics in feelings of motion sickness were published in the journal Human Molecular Genetics.

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