Blinking and grunting are just some of the uncontrollable twitches and sounds kids with Tourette's Syndrome make.  The involuntary movements and vocalizations can impact a child's ability to learn and socialize at school.  A new investigational drug could help.

Henry D'alessio got his first guitar four years ago.  It was the same year he was diagnosed with Tourette's.   Henry’s head kept dipping  back and forth, like he was trying to crack his neck.  His mom said the movements were so intense and there were so many of them, if they were stopped at a stop light, the car would actually move.  

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

Tourettes can also cause other involuntary movements, sometimes cardiac problems, sleepiness, and fatigue.  Now, a new investigational drug used to treat schizophrenia and depression could treat the disorder with fewer side effects.  It works for tics because it blocks dopamine.  It’s the first Tourette’s drug available in pill form, instead of a shot. 

Henry has to remember to take his meds twice a day.  The phase three trial is currently recruiting kids with Tourette's in 100 centers around the world.


 BACKGROUND:   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:


Lucy Blasucci, RN,

Research Coordinator

Rush University Medical Center