Promising Drug Study for Autism

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Article first published as Promising Drug Study for Autism on Technorati.

Child with autism helping to decorate the Christmas tree.US News and World Report has an article on a recent study done with a common water pill used to control high blood pressure. It seems that this drug, bumetanide, can regulate gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain, which is a neurotransmitter. It was postulated that regulating this neurotransmitter could help children with autism regulate their brain activity and ease some of their common symptoms.

The double-blind study which is available online in the journal Translational Psychiatry, found that those children with autism given the drug saw an improvement in their behavior by the end of the 90 day trial compared to the control group given a placebo.

Now, the researchers were quick to say bumetanide is not a cure for autism, just a treatment, and there is much more research in store before it can be recommended as a regimen for children with autism. But, because the drug already has FDA approval, research, studies, and results can be concluded quickly with a goal to have it available for those with autism within a few years.

Why so long? Well, children who take the regimen daily have to remain on the pill indefinitely, as their behavior quickly regresses once off the pill. Also, there is no known long-term effect study, and as such no known side effects. One child on the study ended with low potassium levels, which could be a potential problem with the drug.

Still, it's promising research that focuses on a potential treatment, and that's great! I love seeing research in this direction, because it's not about curing autism, it's about helping those who need it manage it better.