Posted by Jyoti Pal on September 16, 2010

The drug, Arbaclofen, designed to rebalance brain chemistry hailed as the first treatment that could help ease Autism’s distressing symptoms

Details of the study
For the purpose of the study, Craig Erickson from the Indiana University School of Medicine and team enrolled 25 Autistic children aged between 6 and 17.

The severity of the condition, detailing levels of communication, imagination, and social relationships problems were tracked for each patient.

The drug was administered to each participant for over eight weeks.

At the end of eight-week clinical trail, the participants were calmer and more sociable. They made eye contact more frequently, were less anxious, and become less irritable than at the start, researchers found.

"We observed marked improvement in the majority of patients treated in the study, including reductions in agitation and tantrums. They made eye contact more easily and were less anxious than at the start,” said Erickson.

“This work will potentially open up a door in treating disorders that has, until recently, been firmly shut," Erickson averred.

How does Arbaclofen work?
Autism is a developmental disorder of the brain typically characterized by impaired social interaction and communication,and restricted and repetitive behavior.

The current line of treatment typically includes use of anti-depressants and anti-psychotics that target only specific symptoms.

Arbaclofen, the new autism drug being developed by Seaside Therapeutics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, works by rebalancing the brain chemistry.

"We are trying to normalize signaling functions within the brain," says Randall Carpenter of Seaside Therapeutics in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

"Too much activation with glutamate makes people with autism very sensitive to loud noises and other, sudden changes in the environment, increasing anxiety and fear," says Carpenter. "Arbaclofen normalizes this imbalance. It may stop them being oversensitive".

Autism charities joyous over findings
With no special autism drug available till date, the findings of the study appear quite hopeful.

However, the small number of people tested in the trail and findings not compared against a placebo drug, come across as negatives. Also, the assessment of the children was purely subjective.

"As the nature of autism is so complex, many interventions have been tried and tested over the years, but what works for one person won’t necessarily work for another," Amanda Batten, of the National Autistic Society, said.

"Further rigorous research is required into potential interventions, such as Arbaclofen, to properly understand and assess the impact that they could have on people’s lives," Batten maintained.

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