Menendez Bill Ramps-Up Efforts to Develop New Treatments, Cure for Tourette Syndrome

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) reintroduced legislation that refocuses the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) efforts to discover new treatments and a cure for Tourette Syndrome (TS).  May 15 – June 15 is Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month.

“With tens of thousands of our children and teens afflicted with Tourette Syndrome, this debilitating disorder deserves greater attention from our nation’s scientific research institutions,” said Sen. Menendez.  “We must do everything we can to develop effective treatments and a cure for TS to help ease the suffering and help unlock every child’s full potential.”

The Tourette Association currently estimates that one out of every 160 American children between the ages of five and 17 has TS.  When including other tic disorders, the prevalence is estimated to be about one percent of all U.S. children.

Sen. Menendez’s CARE for Tourette Syndrome Act seeks to build on current NIH activities on TS and directs NIH to allocate existing funds towards critical research programs by:

  • Expanding and intensifying data collection on TS to improve information on the prevalence of the disease, including data on comorbid conditions and variations in the disease across populations and geographic regions
  • Establishing Collaborative Research Centers for Tourette syndrome to conduct in-depth, multidisciplinary TS research in the fields of developmental neurobiology, psychology, genetics, pharmacology, psychopharmacology and neuroimaging.  Eligible entities include academic and other research institutions, acting independently or in a consortium, and with broad geographic diversity.

“On behalf of the Tourette Association of America, I would like to thank Senator Menendez for his continued leadership and support for Tourette Syndrome scientific and clinical research,” said John Miller, president and CEO of the Tourette Association of America.  “This legislation sends an important signal to American families living with TS that we will continue our efforts to make like better for all people living with Tourette Syndrome.”

TS is a neurological disorder for which there is no cure.  It’s characterized by repetitive, stereotyped, involuntary movement and vocalizations called tics.  The first symptoms are typically noticed in childhood, and while TS can be a chronic condition, symptom improvement often occurs in the late teens and adulthood.  Although the cause of TS is unknown, research indicates that TS may have genetic basis and that abnormal signaling between brain circuits plays a causal role.  Several therapies have proven successful at attenuating tics and improving psychosocial functioning.

The NIH currently supports basic and clinical research in the genetics, developmental neurobiology, and psychopharmacology of TS through the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).