Researchers believe they may have discovered a possible cause of a mystery condition that can leave sufferers suddenly unable to walk, talk or see.

It’s hoped the study – led by the University of York and Hull York Medical School and supported by Tees, Esk and Wear Valley NHS Trust – will pave the way for new treatments for Conversion disorder which affects around 800,000 people in the UK alone.

The condition, also known as functional neurological disorder (FND), causes physical symptoms that would appear neurological but doctors can’t find an injury or physical condition to explain them.

Professor Christina van der Feltz-Cornelis from the Department of Health Sciences is leading the Conversion And Neuro-inflammation Disorder Observational (CANDO) study. This pilot study is the first in a program of research to explore how conversion disorder/FND can be caused, and to develop and evaluate new treatments.

The first findings suggest that conversion disorder could be caused by a low grade inflammation process that influences gene expression, which is the process by which the instructions in our DNA are converted into a functional product, such as a protein. Protein does most of the work in cells and is required for the structure, function, and regulation of the body’s tissues and organs.

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