080210xf's Blog

L'X fragile sera vaincu | Fragile X will be conquered

Pharma companies set their sights on autism

SFARI, Virginia Hugues

A decade of research on the biology of autism, combined with a steady rise in diagnoses, has finally piqued the pharmaceutical industry’s interest in developing drugs for the disorder.

In the past year, large pharmaceutical companies, small biotechs and academic groups have all jumped into the field, sponsoring clinical trials of both new and existing drugs. Preliminary data from one small clinical trial show positive results, and results from several others are expected this summer.

The autism community has long hoped for drugs that target the disorder’s hallmark social and communicative deficits. The only compounds approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for autism — the antipsychotics risperidone and aripiprazole — alleviate secondary symptoms, such as irritability and aggression.

“For a while, we’ve been piggy-backing on drugs that have been indicated for other conditions, such as Alzheimer’s, because companies are not interested in developing a drug for a disorder that does not have a lot of market share,” says Antonio Hardan, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at Stanford University.

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