Cleveland—In a darkened conference hall,
Kirk Frey, MD, PhD, nodded toward the screen showing a slide listing all the
published studies on neurochemical changes in the brain related to Tourette
syndrome (TS). The list did not take long to read—it contained just
"This is the literature in its entirety," said Frey, director of nuclear
medicine at the University of Michigan Medical Center, Ann Arbor.
Despite being named and discovered more than a century ago by French
neurologist Georges Gilles de la Tourette, the disorder, characterized by
verbal and motor tics, remains vastly understudied and underdiagnosed. Getting
at the root cause of TS has been a tough proposition for researchers. They
have not been able to glean much from autopsy and postmortem data because
those studies have included small numbers of individuals, and the neurochemical
changes reported have been subtle. Those data also are confounded by the fact
that they often come from patients who had more than one neurobehavioral diagnosis
and took medications that could cause changes in the brain.
Voelker R. Scientists Use Neuroimaging, Genetic Studies to Probe Biology of Tourette Syndrome. JAMA. 2004;292(8):909-911. doi:10.1001/jama.292.8.909