Clinical Trial Launched to Assess Safety and Efficacy of Autism Drug Treatment

UC San Diego researchers open first study of suramin in children with autism —

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have launched a clinical trial to investigate the safety and efficacy of an unprecedented drug therapy for autism.

The phase 1 clinical trial, which is recruiting 20 qualifying participants, will evaluate suramin – a century-old drug still used for African sleeping sickness – as a novel treatment for children with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Previous published research by Robert K. Naviaux, MD, PhD, professor of medicine, pediatrics and pathology at UC San Diego School of Medicine, and colleagues reported that a single injection of suramin reversed symptoms of ASD in mouse models. …Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Robert Naviaux, MD, PhD, is professor of medicine in the Division of Medical Genetics and professor in the departments of pediatrics and pathology.

He co-directs the Mitochondrial and Metabolic Disease Center at UC San Diego.

More about research in the Naviaux laboratory

Century-Old Drug Reverses Autism-like Symptoms in Fragile X Mouse Model

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) affect 1 to 2 percent of children in the United States. Hundreds of genetic and environmental factors have been shown to increase the risk of ASD. Researchers at UC San Diego School of Medicine previously reported that a drug used for almost a century to treat trypanosomiasis, or sleeping sickness, reversed environmental autism-like symptoms in mice.

Now, a new study published in this week’s online issue of Molecular Autism, suggests that a genetic form of autism-like symptoms in mice are also corrected with the drug, even when treatment was started in young adult mice. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Chief investigator of the study is Robert Naviaux, MD, PhD, professor of medicine in the Division of Medical Genetics and professor in the departments of pediatrics and pathology.

Dr. Naviaux is co-director of the Mitochondrial and Metabolic Disease Center at UC San Diego.

Read the abstract of the article in Molecular Autism

More about research in the Naviaux laboratory