Monday, January 18, 2010

Autism: searching for a cure

We currently have drug therapies for a wide variety of conditions. We have ways to treat diabetes and reduce the risk for heart attacks. We have medications for depression and anxiety. We even have medications for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

When will we find a drug treatment for autism?

If you visit, you'll find almost 200 trials if you type the word "autism" into the search box. Roughly half of those studies are recruiting volunteers, but the problem is that many parents do not wish to subject their children to clinical studies. So, how will researchers conduct their research? How will the medical community find a cure or treatment for autism unless we have enough clinical studies evaluating various treatment options?

Speaking of treatments, there's a startup company based in Cambridge, MA called Seaside Therapeutics and this company is testing a compound that dampens synaptic activity by mimicking GABA (an inhibitory chemical messenger in the brain). The company is evaluating this compound in patients who have fragile X and also in those who have autism.

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