New Science, Fresh Hope for Autism

Date: 
January 17, 2013

When Jack was up there with the other performers, the noise, the lights, the crowd almost always got to him, and he would "start spinning," wandering around the stage or turning in circles, Lynn says. "It usually turned into an embarrassing situation," she adds.

But at a dance performance at Jack's Scottsdale, Arizona, school last December, something was different. "He was half a beat behind in the dance, but he did the whole thing," Neil says. "He participated and took the bow with his class."

Afterward, Jack's teacher greeted the Balters in tears. "I don't know what is going on with this kid, but there is this miracle happening and I have a different kid at school," she told the Balters.

In a newly published special report, Reuters spotlights the promising results of early clinical trials of the drug arbaclofen for autism-related social impairments. These early trials involve individuals with fragile X syndrome, the most common inherited cause of autism. However, research suggests that arbaclofen may have similar benefits for children and adults with other forms of autism as well. Last month, Autism Speaks’ not-for-profit affiliate DELSIA announced a targeted partnership with Seaside Therapeutics, the biotech company developing the medicine. The partnership supports the discovery of biomarkers for the development of safe, effective and personalized treatments for autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

The special report also highlights Autism Speaks participation in EU-AIMS, the world’s largest research program facilitating the development of medicines for autism. (Read more about these efforts here and here.)

In the opening narrative of the report, readers meet the Balter family, whose son participated in a recent arbaclofen clinical trial. The Balters are also former co-chairs of Autism Speaks Arizona Walk, and their son’s team is the Arizona Walk’s current No. 1 fundraiser.

Read the full Reuters special report here ....