Clinic seeks people who suffer from severe stuttering

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By Ed YeatesSALT LAKE CITY -- Utah researchers are looking for people who stutter to see if a new experimental drug will change their lives dramatically, allowing them to speak fluently.

If the drug is approved, it could become the first medication designed specifically for this disorder.

Dr. Frederick Reimherr with the University of Utah's Department of Psychiatry Mood Disorder Clinic says previous experiments with this drug look very promising.

It's not a cure, Reimherr says, but what it can do for someone who battles the disorder hour by hour is dramatic. "It drops to a level where it is no longer embarrassing to them. The stuttering will be there a little bit, but at a much lower level," he said.

For someone like James Angell, who is a computer systems administrator, that would make the world of difference, especially when, as part of his job, he's talking to business people on the telephone.

"If it works, even if it helps just a small bit, this would be fantastic," Angell said.

Angell says speaking out loud would no longer be an issue for him and others who worry weather the next word or phrase might trigger a severe stuttering episode.

"I find if I'm in a place which, perhaps, is new, strangely enough, it will be actually better at first, and then it will become worse. It's kind of an unpredictable thing," Angell said.

He continued, "Even if it's a person that I have known for years, I always have that thought in the back of my head: Is this annoying them? So, just to not have that fear would be such a dramatic change."

Nationally, the clinical trial is enrolling 330 people, just like James. Reimherr says his clinic is looking for about 10 to 15 volunteers from Utah.

The drug appears to have few if any side effects. Reimherr said, "The side effects have been very few, that we've seen. It's been well tolerated, easy to tolerate medication."

People interested in finding out whether they qualify for the trial can call (801) 585-MOOD (585-6663). They also can visit or call a national number at 866-469-0444.


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