The International Essential Tremor Foundation Funds Ground-Breaking Research

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Research grants awarded to scientists studying essential tremor, the neurological disorder affecting more than 10 million Americans.

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The International Essential Tremor Foundation (IETF) will fund three essential tremor (ET) research grants totaling $80,000 this year. Grant funding was provided to the IETF from its donors, people directly affected by this life-altering condition.

The IETF will award $35,000 to the study entitled “Testing the GABA Nucleo-Olivary Hypothesis of Essential Tremor.” The goal of this research is to systematically test whether impaired function or degeneration of GABAergic N-O neurons induces action tremor, supporting the hypothesis that such mechanisims underlie at least some cases of ET. Ultimately, the establishment of a robust experimental model of ET may spur further research into the brain circuit dysfunction and cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying ET and pave the way for much needed, targeted development of novel therapeutics for this disease. The study will be conducted by Dr. Nicholas Franich, Assistant Project Scientist at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California in Los Angeles.

The second study to be awarded $20,000 from the IETF is “Essential Tremor Research Program: Cannabidiol Anti-Tremor Action and Mechanisms.” This research will explore the effects of a particular cannabinoid known as "CBD" (cannabidiol) on ET. Unlike the well-known cannabinoid "THC" (tetrahydrocannabinol), which has mood-altering effects, CBD does not impact mood. CBD has already shown some promising initial results in the treatment of epilepsy, pain, anxiety, and other disorders. This study is focused on finding whether CBD suppresses tremor in an animal model that may provide justification for a clinical trial of CBD for ET. More importantly, the determination of the anti-tremor mechanism of CBD would enable the modification of CBD so as to design a medication that is more potent and selective, making it well tolerated and effective for ET. The study will be conducted by Dr. Adrian Handforth, Assistant Chief of Neurology at VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System in California.

The final study, “Abnormal Climbing Fiber-Purkinje Cell Synapses in Essential Tremor” will be awarded $25,000. This study will be conducted by Dr. Sheng-Han Kuo, Assistant Professor of Neurology at Columbia University in New York. Dr. Kuo’s team will build upon previous research after discovering an unknown abnormality in essential tremor patients at the location in the brain where the neuron’s electrical and chemical signals are transmitted and received. They will also look deeper into why there was a decreased level of electrical and chemical activity on the surface layer of the cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls movement. Understanding how and why the neurons in essential tremor patients communicate is the next step in the process of understanding the cause of ET.

Essential tremor is a neurological condition that affects more than 10 million Americans. ET causes rhythmic shaking of the hands, head, and voice. ET is often misdiagnosed as Parkinson’s disease, although eight times more common. ET is characterized by action tremor, making everyday tasks such as eating, drinking, and writing difficult if not impossible. There is no cure for this life-altering condition. To view more IETF-funded research, visit

About The International Essential Tremor Foundation:
Headquartered in Lenexa, KS, and founded in 1988, the International Essential Tremor Foundation is the leading organization in the world dedicated to those affected by essential tremor. The mission of the IETF is to fund research that will find the cause of essential tremor and lead to better treatments and a cure, increase awareness about ET, and provide educational materials, tools and support to healthcare providers, the public, and those directly affected by ET.

The IETF has distributed more than $830,000 in research grants, to fund 33 promising studies, in the search for the cause of ET. The Foundation has hosted numerous community awareness events across the U.S. to provide those affected with the basic knowledge necessary to become their own advocate when seeking treatment. And, the IETF also provides assistance to a vast network of support groups around the world. To learn more about essential tremor and the IETF mission, visit the IETF website at

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Catherine Rice
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International Essential Tremor Foundation
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