Could a Century-Old Drug Help Ease Autism Symptoms?
The study involved just 10 boys, aged 5 to 14, with autism. This was the first human trial to attempt to replicate encouraging results seen in work with mice, the researchers noted. The drug is called suramin. Dr. Matthew Lorber, a child and adolescent psychiatrist with Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, reacted to the findings with caution. "The improvement in the children studied was robust," he noted, "which is cause for hope, since we do not have any approved treatments for the root of autism. "Unfortunately," Lorber added, "the study was so small -- only five children actually received the medication -- that we cannot come to any real conclusions." The upshot, Lorber said, is that "until suramin is tested in a much larger group of people with autism, we cannot move ahead using it as a potential treatment. In addition, suramin in traditional doses can have serious side effects, and it is important that doctors do not start using it for children with autism because the data is scant, and we need much more scientific research."
NYMC Faculty: Matthew Lorber, M.D., M.P.A., clinical assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences