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Background

Research Group Tourette, MHH, Copyright: Thomas Müller-Vahl
Research Group Tourette, MHH, Copyright: Thomas Müller-Vahl

Our research group focuses on the consultation and treatment of patients with Tourette syndrome and other tic disorders as well as on clinical research on various aspects of the disease including clinical features, treatment options and underlying causes.

For this purpose, we offer a highly specialized Tourette outpatient clinic, in which more than 2000 children and adults have been advised and treated in the past 20 years. This makes our Tourette’s clinic the largest of its kind in Germany. The consultations are open to patients of all ages and include diagnostics and the possibility of obtaining a second opinion from a Tourette specialist. The consultation addresses all aspects of tic disorders as well as therapy with all established, but also experimental treatment approaches. In addition to psychotherapeutic and drug therapy, the range of treatment includes the possibility of surgical treatment using deep brain stimulation (in cooperation with the MHH Clinic for Neurosurgery). A special focus is the treatment with cannabis-based medicine.

In addition, we are constantly conducting a large number of scientific studies on clinical aspects, new therapeutic approaches and the causes of Tourette syndrome. Under the direction of Prof. Kirsten R. Müller-Vahl, 15 doctoral theses have been completed in recent years. Currently, we have 14 doctoral students in our research group. Prof. Müller-Vahl has been a leading contributor to the national, European and American guidelines for the treatment of Tourette syndrome for many years. In recent years, the research group has been involved in numerous international cooperations investigating different aspects related to Tourette syndrome including

  • GTS COST Action BM0905: European Network for the Study of Gilles de la Tourette Syndrome, EU Framework Programme COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology)
  • EMTICS: European Multicentre Tics in Children Studies, FP7- HEALTH-2011 No. 278367
  • TS-EUROTRAIN: Marie Curie Initial Training Network: FP7-PEOPLE-2012-ITN No. 316978 (Interdisciplinary training network for Tourette Syndrome; structuring European Training capacities for neurodevelopmental disorders)

As president of the European Society for the Study of Tourette Syndrome (ESSTS), Prof. Müller-Vahl is responsible for the organization of international congresses, the development of treatment guidelines, and further education and information on Tourette syndrome. A close cooperation with national and European self-help groups is particularly important to us. Prof. Müller-Vahl is the spokeswoman of the scientific advisory board of the Tourette Society Germany (Tourette-Gesellschaft Deutschland e.V.,TGD).


Overall goals

Our patients are the focus of our thinking and acting. Therefore, we strive to offer the best possible consultation and therapy within the framework of the Tourette specialist consultation. However, since the causes of Tourette syndrome are still only partially known today and not all patients benefit from and tolerate the currently available treatments, we regularly conduct studies with the aim of better characterizing the clinical picture of the disease, better understanding the causes of the disease and finally finding better treatment options.

Current and previous studies have therefore dealt with very different aspects of the disease. Our studies range from phenomenological studies such as studies on quality of life, tic suppression, premonitory urges, free will and comorbid diseases such as rage attacks and self-injurious behavior, studies exploring the potential causes of Tourette syndrome such as genetics, epigenetics, immunological aspects and imaging studies on different transmitter systems of the brain to treatment studies which explore the effectiveness and efficacy of internet-based behavioral therapy, cannabis-based medicines and deep brain stimulation.

Currently, special emphasis is put on research on the efficacy and safety of cannabis-based medicines and endocannabinoid modulators in the treatment of tics and typical comorbid diseases of Tourette syndrome such as ADHD, OCD, depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, self-injurious behavior and rage attacks as well as studies on the role of the endocannabinoid system in the pathophysiology of the disease.

Another important current research focus is the differentiation from functional (dissociative) movement disorders. To date, the diagnosis of Tourette syndrome and other tic disorders is only possible clinically on the basis of a medical history and examination. An increasing number of patients are currently presenting in our clinic with a functional disorder with tic and/or Tourette-like symptoms, either exclusively or in combination with Tourette syndrome. Therefore, another focus of our studies is the differentiation of functional movements from tics, the investigation of the causes and the treatment of this movement disorder.

Scientific collaborations

Third-party funding

The following externally funded studies are currently ongoing:

Research group members

Research group leader

Prof. Dr. Kirsten Müller-Vahl

Managing senior physician

Phone: +49 511 532 5258

mueller-vahl.kirsten@mh-hannover.de

Excellence at a glance: see here

Publications: Pubmed

 

Secretary

Martina Henning

Phone: +49 511 532 3551

Fax: 0511 532 3187

henning.martina@mh-hannover.de