Tyler’s Hope Foundation Grants Duke University the Center of Excellence Award for Groundbreaking Dystonia Research

Press release from Tyler’s Hope for a Dystonia Cure

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Tyler’s Hope for a Dystonia Cure Foundation announced that Duke University has received the organization’s highest honor for excellence in research, education, and service. To receive this designation, Duke demonstrated a focus on dystonia as a neurological movement disorder and achieved significant breakthroughs in the science towards finding a cure. The Staab family was elated by this news because they founded Tyler’s Hope in 2005 in response to their son and daughter’s diagnosis of dystonia. This new partnership with Duke will strengthen their efforts to find a cure for all people with dystonia.

Dr. Nicole Calakos and colleagues of the Duke University School of Medicine in Neurogenetics discovered that 18 FDA-approved medications have the potential to correct cellular and brain abnormalities associated with dystonia. Further analysis of the 18 medications revealed that ritonavir had the greatest potential.

In mice with a gene mutation that leads to dystonia, ritonavir restored the function of an acetylcholine-releasing neuron that is impaired in current anti-cholinergic drugs, suggesting that these drugs could be improved. Ritonavir was also offered to mice with the DYT1 gene mutation when they were young, and the resulting brain MRI images showed considerable correction, indicating that ritonavir may be used to treat this condition.

“We are extremely proud to award Dr. Calakos and her team at Duke University for their groundbreaking research into Dystonia. All the necessary components exist at Duke University to make the program a world leader and find a cure for my children and all who are affected,” expresses Rick Staab, Tyler’s Hope Foundation.

Tyler’s Hope’s continued mission to advance research for a cure, discover effective treatments, and promote awareness and education of DYT1 Dystonia, is only expanded with the continued efforts and success of medical research teams and universities.

This scientific discovery, in addition to the infrastructure, provides both clinical treatment and research in dystonia. The institution also provides resources to develop the next generation of researchers and clinicians in dystonia through the robust fellowship program.