Century-Old Drug Tested in Boys with Autism

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Century-Old Drug Tested in Boys with Autism

By UC San Diego Health

Suramin is a 100-year-old drug developed to treat African sleeping sickness. It is not approved for any therapeutic use in the U.S. However, a small clinical trial at UC San Diego School of Medicine found that a single intravenous dose of suramin produced measurable, but transient, improvements in five boys with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). More broadly, the trial findings support the “cell danger response theory,” which posits that autism is driven by metabolic dysfunction — and thus treatable. Larger, longer clinical trials are needed to assess suramin as an ASD treatment. In this video, we hear from lead researcher Robert Naviaux, MD, PhD, and the mothers of two boys who received suramin in the trial.

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