Roskamp Institute finds one of the genetic causes for Tourettes syndrome

Tourette syndrome (TS) is a heterogeneous childhood disorder and occurs with a frequency of approximately four to ten per 10,000 in the general population (Mason et al. 1998). The symptoms for Tourette syndrome include multiple motor and one or more vocal tics. These symptoms appear to overlap with other neurobehavioral disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, mood disorders and learning disorders. The origin of Tourette syndrome is not clearly understood at this time. However, there appears to be presence of a genetic component, evidence for which comes from both family and twin studies. Furthermore, a complex mode of inheritance has been suggested which probably involves several genes with different effect size.  Additionally, environmental factors such as prenatal and birth complications may also influence the disease manifestation.

The Roskamp Institute scientists Drs. Michael Mullan (Director of the Roskamp Institute), Fiona Crawford (Associate Director of the Roskamp Institute) and Ghania Ait-ghezala (a senior scientist at the Roskamp Institute) have previously shown that among patients diagnosed with Tourettes syndrome in two unrelated families, there appears to be a breakage and translocation on chromosome 8 (original findings published in the journal Human Genetics).  Drs. Fiona Crawford and Ghania Ait-ghezala subsequently received funding from the Tourettes syndrome association to further characterize this chromosomal breakage.

Currently, there is no treatment available for Tourettes syndrome. Although, the symptoms in most individuals improve by the late teens and early 20s, this disorder is generally lifelong and chronic.  Studies have also shown that although symptoms such as tics may disappear after the childhood period, it is possible that other psychiatric disorders such as depression, panic attacks, mood swings, and antisocial behaviors persist and cause lifelong impairment in adults.  Therefore, a treatment for this disorder is much needed so that a child can actually be disease free throughout his/her life and has a decent chance of living a normal life. The Roskamp Institute is currently engaged in molecular biological research aimed at determining the genes that are disturbed when this chromosomal breakage and translocation occur. Through this novel finding, the scientists at the Roskamp Institute hope to discover a treatment for Tourettes syndrome.

The Roskamp Institute is located in Sarasota Florida and is a not-for-profit stand alone research institute dedicated to finding cures for neuropsychiatric disorders. The Roskamp Institute is currently conducting a clinical trial evaluating safely and efficacy of nilvadipine for the treatment for Alzheimer’s disease (clinical trial being performed in Dublin, Ireland). Furthermore, the Roskamp Institute is conducting various molecular biological studies to find treatment for chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and other neuropsychiatric disorders such as traumatic brain injury, gulf war syndrome, and substance abuse. The Roskamp Institute operates two memory disorder clinics located in Sarasota and Tampa, Florida. These clinics conduct diagnostic assessments for memory disorders and conduct industry and government funded clinical trials in several neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders. The Roskamp institute is currently funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Veteran’s Administration, the Department of Defense and the private donation by the Robert and Diane Roskamp foundation. For more information or the research or clinical trials, please contact us at 94-752-2949.


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