There’s always a new study that shows a connection or possible cause of autism. Because there is so much that we do not know about autism, scientist can connect just about anything to autism. Sometimes, a study is published that I think merits taking a look at, and a lot of times I just file it under not worth remembering. When I see a study that is followed by a drug trial, I am given pause. There is a medicine treatment trial going on for the treatment of Tuberous Sclerosis and it’s being called by some a clinical trial for the treatment of autism.
This has me confused. Here is what it says on the Boston’s Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School about the clinical trial:
We are currently conducting a phase II clinical trial of a drug that may reduce learning deficits and autistic symptoms in patients with TSC. Research by the Sahin Laboratory and others has revealed that brain circuits are miswired in TSC. Because of a hyperactive cell growth pathway called mTOR, nerve fibers grow in a disorganized manner with structural abnormalities. Inhibition of mTOR can reverse some of these abnormalities, as well as functional brain defects such as seizures and learning deficits in mice. This clinical trial will test a drug called RAD001, which inhibits the mTOR pathway. -Boston’s Children’s Hospital
Individuals clinically diagnosed with TSC between the ages of 6-21 years with an IQ greater than or equal to 60 are eligible to participate. - Boston’s Children’s Hospital
Care2 wrote an article about the study that lead to this clinical trial, and included information about a couple of autistic children that are participating in the clinical study. I’m still trying to process this information, and to find more. The first question that comes to mind is whether or not this is an actual autism drug treatment. To participate in the cliniccal trial, the individual must have a diagnosis of TSC. It says they are testing to see if these drugs will “reduce deficits and autistic symptoms” in TSC patients. That doesn’t sound like a drug treatment for autism. Yet, parents of a child with autism are participating in this study? Do these children actually have autism, or are they children with TSC which apparently can exhibit autism like symptoms?
When I first saw that there was a clinical trial for a drug treatment for autism, I could feel a little glimmer of hope begin to spring inside. But now, I feel a bit disappointed. I’m also not happy about thee fact that some are calling this an autism treatment drug trial. From what I have read, it isn’t. And it’s extremely misleading for anyone to call it that.