New Tourette Syndrome treatment being tested

By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects
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CHICAGO, Ill. - Henry D'Alessio got his first guitar four years ago.

"My neck kept going back and forth," he said.

"These movements were so intense and there were so many of them, if you were stopped at a stop light, the car would actually move," said Darinka D'Alessio, Henry's mom.

Henry takes medication to help control it, but it's also caused him to gain 60 pounds in two years. It's a common side effect of current meds.

"Side effects can include a lot of weight gain and sometimes the emergence of other involuntary movements and sometimes cardiac problems, sleepiness, and fatigue," explained Katie Kompoliti, Associate Professor of Neurological Sciences at Rush University Medical Center.

Now, a new investigational drug used to treat schizophrenia and depression could treat the disorder with fewer side effects.

"It's going to work for tics because it blocks dopamine,"Kompoliti said.

It's the first Tourette's drug available in pill form.

"Nobody likes to get shots," Kompoliti said.

Henry has to remember to take his meds twice a day.

"It would make life a lot easier because I wouldn't have to keep track of that all the time," he said.

Instead he would have more time to make music.

The next step for this treatment is the Phase III trial.

Additional Information:

Tourette's syndrome (TS) is caused by a malfunction in the brain and can be linked to genetics. Adults and children who are affected by this syndrome experience "tics" which are uncontrollable movements and sounds.  It is common for Tourette's patients to have other issues such as OCD, ADHD, anxiety, emotion and behavior control problems and learning difficulties. TS is measured by the severity of the patient's tics; sometimes a patient's tics will go away by the time they have reached adulthood. (Source:  

SYMPTOMS: If a person is under the age of 18 and is noticing constant tics for more than a year, then there may be a chance that the individual has Tourette's syndrome.  There are two kinds of motor tics and two kinds of vocal tics; simple and complex tics. Simple motor tics include: head jerking, eye darting and blinking, finger flexing and shoulder shrugging. Complex motor tics consist of flapping the arms, hopping around and crude gesturing. As for vocal tics, some simple symptoms are yelling, hiccupping and throat clearing, while complex vocal tics incorporate the repetition of another's own words, the use of different tones of voice and the use of swear words. (Source:

TREATMENT: As of now, there is no cure for Tourette's syndrome, but there are medications offered to those who have tics that interfere with daily functioning. Most patients do not need treatment but behavioral treatments such as habit reversal and comprehensive behavioral intervention for tics (CBIT) are offered to those who suffer from severe tics. (Source:

NEW TREATMENT: A new drug is being studied to decrease the amount of tics a patient with Tourette's experiences. Typical medication is injected into a muscle several times a day to relieve the tic, while this new pill only requires one dose a week. Side effects from older medication include weight gain, fatigue and dulling of the mind. This new medication is still being studied but will be preferred for patients so they do not have to constantly remember to take their medicine. (Source:

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