Trial shows hope for possible autism drug suramin

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The drug suramin has shown hopes for treating autism. (WLS)

The CDC estimates that one in 68 children in the United States are on the autism spectrum and there are currently no FDA-approved treatments.

Some of the symptoms can include social skills, communication and repetitive behavior, which is why the results from a small clinical trial has grabbed the attention of researchers and families.

Dr. Robert Naviaux suspected the cause of autism might be metabolic dysfunction, where the energy molecule ATP is "outside" cells. He researched more than 2,000 drugs and found one that might help -- the drug suramin.

Naviaux tested one dose in a clinical trial of ten boys, five got the drug.

"Children began to talk, sometimes for the first time, in sentences, in their life," he said.

Boys who got suramin had autism severity scores drop from 8.6 to 7, the lowest point on the spectrum. They improved social, language and fine motor skills, and found relief from repetitive motions and fragmented sleep.

Miles McInerney was in the trial but did not receive suramin. He still wanted to help.

"I should generally be interested in the ability to possibly find a way that people with worse autism or struggle more with autism than I do, to possibly be able to find a solution that can help them better communicate," McInerney said.

He now uses rowing to reduce the stress related to his autism. For those who did get the drug, Dr. Naviaux said most but not all the effects wore off in eight weeks.

"Some children had learned to tie their shoes for the first time, and other children had learned to zip up a jacket. Those fine motors skills were motor memory that had been retained," Naviaux said.

McInerney and his mom are encouraged by the results

Dr. Naviaux said next, there will be several Phase 2 trials to determine safety and efficacy for suramin,

He suspects it will be three to five years before Phase 3 trials begin.

If you would like more information, check out the medical breakthroughs on the web at
Related Topics:
healthprescription drugsautism

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