100-year old drug could hold the key to autism cure.
A drug that was first discovered 100-years ago could be the hope needed for an autism cure.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is the name given to a range of autism disorders, thought to affect 3.5 million individuals in the U.S.
There is no denying that autism disorders are on the rise. It is estimated that 1 in 68 children suffers from an autism disorder of some kind and this number has been steadily rising year on year.
Doctors have struggled to pinpoint exactly why there has been a huge spike in these kind of neurological disorders. Factors such as diet and lifestyle and the rise of the electronic age have been blamed. Children these days have much lower attention spans than at any time in the past, and their diets are generally full of chemicals and additives – all of these can seriously harm the brain.
There has been no single successful ‘cure’ for autism as of yet, and the complications surround the condition make it extremely hard to treat.
Dr. Wendy Roberts says:
“We tend to borrow drugs from disorders like anxiety or inattention, so if we could find a drug that is helpful for a significant number of children and young people with autism, that would be great.”
But the answer may well have been found. Robert Naviaux, MD, Ph.D., co-director of the Mitochondrial and Metabolic Disease Center at UC San Diego School of Medicine has discovered something amazing with a drug that is 100-years old.
Dr. Naviaux and his team experimented with the drug ‘suramin’ on autistic children, to some amazing results.
In a clinical trial of 10 boys, aged 5 to 14 years old all who have been diagnosed with ASD, half were given suramin.
The drug was initially developed in 1916 as a cure for sleeping sickness, but in the trial the boys who were given it reported improvements in language and social behavior, restricted and repetitive behaviors and coping skills.
“We had four non-verbal children in the study, two 6-year-olds and two 14-year-olds. The six-year-old and the 14-year-old who received suramin said the first sentences of their lives about one week after the single suramin infusion. This did not happen in any of the children given the placebo.”
While the effects of the drug in this trial were admittedly only temporary, the trial has opened up the door for further testing of this drug against ASD and other autism disorders.