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Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is an uncommon condition characterized by an irresistible urge to move the legs. With our company's profound expertise in RLS research, we are well-equipped to offer tailored solutions and comprehensive support to facilitate your research process from RLS therapy development to therapy commercialization.

Introduction to RLS

Restless legs syndrome (RLS), alternatively referred to as Willis-Ekbom disease, is a movement disorder characterized by an intense compulsion to frequently move the legs, often accompanied by uncomfortable sensations. The symptoms primarily manifest during periods of rest or inactivity, particularly in the evening and at night, leading to disruptions in sleep and decreased overall quality of life for those affected. 

According to a meta-analysis of RLS epidemiological studies, the overall prevalence of RLS in the general population ranges from 5% to 15%. Approximately 2.5% of adults experience symptoms severe enough to necessitate medical intervention. Furthermore, RLS has a roughly two-fold higher incidence in women compared to men.

Fig. 1 Link between the MEIS1 gene and restless legs syndrome.Fig. 1 Link between the MEIS1 gene and restless legs syndrome. (Sarayloo, Faezeh, et al., 2019)

Pathogenesis of RLS

The exact cause of RLS remains elusive, but research has shed light on potential underlying factors contributing to its development.

Dopamine Imbalance

Reduced dopamine levels or impaired dopamine receptor function may disrupt the normal regulation of movement, leading to the characteristic symptoms of RLS.

Genetic Factors

RLS can be inherited in an autosomal dominant manner. Certain genetic variations may predispose individuals to developing RLS.

Other Risk Factors

Iron deficiency and anemia, pregnancy, diabetes, kidney disease, and peripheral neuropathy are also associated with secondary RLS.

Therapeutics Development of RLS

To develop effective therapeutics for RLS, it is crucial to identify specific targets involved in the pathogenesis of the condition.

Dopamine System

One key focus in treating RLS is the dopamine system, particularly the dopaminergic receptors located in the basal ganglia. Medications like pramipexole and ropinirole, which are dopamine agonists that stimulate these receptors, have been extensively utilized for RLS management. These drugs increase dopamine levels or enhance dopaminergic signaling to relieve symptoms of RLS.

Iron Metabolism Pathway

Another potential target is iron metabolic pathways. Iron deficiency is a common comorbidity in RLS individuals. Iron supplementation has shown promise in improving symptoms, especially in individuals with low iron levels. By replenishing iron stores, these supplements restore iron-dependent processes in the brain and may alleviate RLS symptoms.

Our Services

Our company has established a comprehensive platform for developing rare disease diagnostics and therapies, encompassing small molecule drug, cell therapy, gene therapy, therapeutic antibody, therapeutic peptide, and therapeutic protein. Through our dedicated platforms, we are fully devoted to advancing the development of innovative diagnostic tools and therapies for RLS.

Recognizing the significance of animal disease models in the therapy development for RLS, we offer our expertise in establishing animal models specifically tailored for RLS. These models serve as invaluable tools to facilitate the safety evaluation and pharmacokinetics study of your drug candidates.

Animal Models of RLS

Induced Animal Models
Sleep deprivation and chronic iron deficiency are commonly used in animal models to induce symptoms similar to RLS. Sleep deprivation models involve restricting or fragmenting sleep of animals. Chronic iron deficiency models reproduce the sensory and motor abnormalities observed in RLS individuals by manipulating iron levels in animals.
Genetically Engineered Models
Our scientists create genetically engineered models of RLS by manipulating specific genes or genetic pathways. These models effectively reproduce the sensory abnormalities and motor dysfunction observed in individuals with RLS.
Optional Models
  • BXD 40 Models
  • Btbd9 knockout Models
  • MEIS1 Models
Optional Species Mice, Zebrafish, Rats, Fruit Flies, Caenorhabditis Elegans, Others

Regardless of your current stage of research, we offer comprehensive research services tailored to your needs. If you are interested in our services, please don't hesitate to contact us for more information and a detailed quotation regarding the specific services you require.


  • Sarayloo, Faezeh, Patrick A. Dion, and Guy A. Rouleau. "MEIS1 and restless legs syndrome: a comprehensive review." Frontiers in neurology 10 (2019): 474394.
  • Allen, Richard P., et al. "Animal models of RLS phenotypes." Sleep medicine 31 (2017): 23-28.

All of our services and products are intended for preclinical research use only and cannot be used to diagnose, treat or manage patients.

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