New compound provides hope in autism research

New compound provides hope in autism research

(NewsUSA) - If you don't know someone with autism spectrum disorders, chances are that you will soon -- according to the Autism Society of America, autism spectrum disorders, which are characterized by repetitive behavior and social and communication difficulties, are increasing at a growth rate of 1,148 percent, making them the fastest growing developmental disability.
The reasons behind this growth remain unexplained. Some believe that environmental factors may be at hand; others believe that the diagnostic criteria used to determine autism have broadened, so they now encompass those who might have been dismissed as "retarded" in less-enlightened times.
Researchers still don't know why some children develop autism spectrum disorders, but whether the disability is associated with genetics or environmental causes, specific structural and chemical changes in the brain have been proven consistent.
While some researchers work to determine autism's cause, others work on developing treatments to help the 1 million to 1.5 million Americans living with autism spectrum disorders. Investigation into autistic brain structure reveals abnormalities in brain plasticity -- the functional changes in the brain that result from learning -- and serotonin levels. Addressing these changes might help alleviate autism symptoms.
Breaking the pattern of traditional research, a few biotechs are approaching autism treatments with the focus being on core issues rather than the resulting symptoms. Perhaps leading the way is Cellceutix Corporation, a public company trading at $0.60 per share on the NASDAQ Bulletin Boards under the ticker CTIX. Cellceutix has been making great strides with its novel compound, KM-391. In pre-clinical studies, scientists chemically replicated common characteristics of the autistic brain in a rat model. The rats displayed symptoms associated with autism, including repetitive behavior, self-induced injury, sensitivity to touch and changed group dynamics. When the rats were treated with KM-391, many showed a significant reduction in autism-related behaviors.
While KM-391 is not yet ready for human trials, research moving in this direction holds promise for autism patients and their families. Complete study results can be viewed on the Cellceutix Web site at www.cellceutix.com.