A New Version of an Old Drug May Someday Help Treat Autism

Another great story on the fantastic research being done on Autism and Fragile X by Seaside Therapeutics, this time in Time Magazine.

One night in 2006, Kathy Roberts rushed her autistic daughter, Jenny, to the hospital. Nothing had been able to stop the young woman, then in her mid-20s, from vomiting. Jenny had recently suffered several major seizures and her entire gastrointestinal system was going haywire.

To try to calm Jenny’s GI tract, doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital prescribed baclofen, an antispasmodic drug that is also being studied as a potential treatment for alcoholism and other addictions. The drug relieved Jenny’s vomiting, but it did something else too — a completely unexpected and welcome side effect.

“Within 24 hours, I saw a change,” says Roberts. “Right away, I saw that it was globally calming. I’ve always described a state that she would get into where it seemed like she wasn’t comfortable in her own skin, and was trying to crawl out. I saw that calmed down.”

Roberts, founder of the Giant Step school for children with autism in Southport, Conn., called Mark Bear, professor of neuroscience at MIT and advisory board member of Giant Step. In 2005, Bear had co-founded a drug company called Seaside Therapeutics to develop treatments for autism and other developmental disorders. Roberts told Bear about baclofen’s effect on her daughter, and a new line of research was born.

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From Time Magazine

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