Medication for Autism?
One in every 88 children today is born with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a complex condition affecting brain development that leads to difficulties in social interaction and communication, along with repetitive behaviours and obsessive interests. The disorder has a profound impact on the health and quality of life of children and their families, and takes a social and financial toll on society.
There are currently no medicines approved to treat the symptoms of ASD. But child neurologist Dr. Evdokia Anagnostou has set out to change this. Anagnostou established Canada’s first clinical trials lab for ASD, as well as its first clinical trials network dedicated to neurodevelopmental disorders. As Canada Research Chair in Translational Therapeutics in ASD, Anagnostou will focus on translating basic scientific findings into medications patients can use. Because she collaborates with basic scientists as well as clinicians, she is uniquely positioned to bridge the gap commonly seen between the two groups of professionals.
Anagnostou plans to do three key things. First, she will improve the capacity for clinical trials—rigorous tests that potential drugs must go through to make sure they are safe and effective. Second, she will test potential drugs to see if they are likely to work. Finally, she will classify genomic findings, brain images, and behaviours of children with ASD in ways that predict how those children will respond to treatments, allowing health care practitioners to personalize treatments for each child.