Autism drugs head into human clinical trials

Experimental drugs aimed at correcting three rare conditions linked with autism are beginning early-stage human trials. These therapies are targeted at Rett syndrome, fragile X, and tuberous sclerosis complex. And the scientists involved in these programs say that they have data that suggests the treatments could reverse the damage wrought by the ailments, according to a report in MIT Technology Review.

Researchers at MIT say they were able to correct abnormal brain development as well as faulty memory while reducing the number of seizures in mice engineered to develop fragile X by reducing the activity of a receptor called metabotropic glutamate receptor 5, or mGluR5, says the Review.  

MIT neuroscientist Mark Bear has founded a company, Seaside Therapeutics, to test that approach in humans.

"The idea that you could reintroduce function is a sea-change event," said Emanuel DiCicco-Bloom, a scientist at University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, recently told colleagues.

- check out the article in MIT Technology Review