MIT researcher Mark Bear says that biotechs hold the key to treating autism and some forms of mental retardation, with the drugs that are already on their lab shelves, says the Forbes Treatments blog's Robert Langreth. Bear's "radical" new theory suggest that a specific class of drug already developed by drug companies may help patients with an inherited disease, fragile X syndrome, which is thought to be a cause of autism. Roche has already begun testing an old class of experimental anxiety drugs called mGluR5 inhibitors in patients with fragile X syndrome, Langreth says. Biotech company Seaside Therapeutics — co-founded by Bear — has licensed a similar drug from Merck, and plans to start testing on people with fragile X next year. Bear's work with mice shows that patients with fragile X make too much of a protein that prevents the brain from learning properly, and he believes that adjusting the protein's levels pharmaceutically can reverse the problem, Langreth says. Though there is still a lot of work to be done, Bear is optimistic about being able to treat fragile X with these drugs, he adds.
Is the Answer Right in Front of Us?
Dec 14, 2010