Georgia State Department of Psychology awarded contract to test new drugs for treatment of autism

The Department of Psychology at Georgia State is teaming up with the Marcus Autism Center, an affiliate of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and the Emory Autism Center to test new drugs designed to treat patients on the autism spectrum.

The three institutions were awarded the contract by the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH) this morning. The contract is a part of the NIMH’s experimental medicine initiative called Fast-Fail Trials in Autism Spectrum Disorder (FAST-AS).

The researchers in this Atlanta-based group will be joining other multi-institutional teams that the NIMH has contracted across the country. Those teams include leading medical centers such as Harvard University, University of California at Los Angeles, and the University of Washington.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a condition that begins in early childhood. Patients on the spectrum are often characterized by difficulty with social interaction, repetitive behavior, and constricted patterns of interest.

One in 88 children in the U.S is affected by ASD. Because several genes have been identified by researchers in the last decade that increase the risk of ASD, researchers have been able to use these advances in genetics to discover clues on developing new drug treatments.

If the teams can prove these new drugs to be successful, the drugs may be ready for larger clinical trials designed to test the drugs’ social desirability.

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