Researchers believe they have identified a rare genetic mutation can cause some cases of Tourette syndrome.
The discovery, in which a mutation causes a disruption in the production of histamine in the brain, marks the first time that a genetic mutation has been linked to Tourette syndrome.
Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine say the histamine effect is a cause of the unwanted and involuntary, repetitive tics and vocal sounds associated with Tourette.
The gene in question is known as HDC (histidine decarboxylase), found mutated in a family line with a full nine members of that family diagnosed with Tourette.
This discovery suggests that treatments that target histamine receptors in the brain or possibly inhibitors of that gene may be possible to develop as a manner of treating Tourette syndrome. Similar drugs are already in development for the treatment of other brain disorders, including schizophrenia.
According to Christopher Pittenger of the Yale Child Study Center and associate professor of psychiatry and psychology, "These findings give us a new window into what's going on in the brain in people with Tourette. That's likely to lead us to new treatments."
Their findings have been published in the journal Neuron.