Yale Helps Organize Conference to Identify New Treatments for Tourette Syndrome
Leading scientists, including several from Yale School of Medicine, will gather in Washington, D.C., September 10-12 to identify new approaches for the treatment of Tourette Syndrome (TS), a familial neurological disorder that begins in childhood and is characterized by chronic motor and vocal tics.
Blinking, facial movements, head jerking, throat clearing, coughing, grunting, and other brief noises are hallmarks of TS. Although not life threatening, the tics of TS can be disabling, painful, and lead to social isolation—especially in children.
Lawrence Scahill, professor of nursing and child psychiatry at Yale, is the chair of the upcoming conference on developing new treatments for TS. The conference will bring together scientists in and outside of the TS field to evaluate recent findings in neuroscience to update the current treatment for tics.
“We have assembled a group of experts across a range of basic science and clinical fields who probably would not otherwise interact with each other,” Scahill said. “By the end of the conference we hope to have new directions for the treatment for TS.”
Over the past decade there has been a convergence of evidence from neuroimaging, neuropathology, genetics, and behavioral neuroscience about the neurobiology of TS. However, these advances have not yet had much impact on treatment. Research projects at Yale and at several other centers around the world are actively testing various treatments for TS, but new approaches are needed.
Once considered a rare and severe disorder, TS is now viewed as a disorder that ranges from mild to severe, affecting an estimated six of every 1,000 school-age children. Although many children will show a mild variant of TS, as many as one child in 1,000 in the United States may have tics that interfere with every day living.
The most effective medications are antipsychotic drugs with potent dopamine blocking properties. These medications, however, may be associated with sedation, weight gain, and neurological effects. Other types of medications have been used with variable results. “Clearly, it is time for recent findings from cutting edge neuroscience to inform new treatments for TS,” Scahill said.
The National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and the Stroke and Tourette Syndrome Association are jointly sponsoring the conference.
Please contact Scahill at Lawrence Scahill for more information about the conference.