An experimental drug succeeded in a small clinical trial in bringing about what the researchers called substantial improvements in the behaviors associated with retardation and autism in people with fragile X syndrome, the most common inherited cause of these mental disabilities.It's interesting because this trial was on adults. They suspect that the drug may benefit children more. We'll be keeping an eye on this.
The Novartis trial, which began in 2008 in Europe with data analysis completed this year, was too brief to observe effects on basic intelligence. Instead, researchers measured a range of aberrant behaviors like hyperactivity, repetitive motions, social withdrawal and inappropriate speech. They gave one set of patients the drug and another a placebo, and after a few weeks switched treatments, with both doctors and patients unaware of which pill was which.
The results of the trial were something of a jumble until Novartis scientists noticed that patients who had a particular, undisclosed biological trait improved far more than others. “The bottom line is that we showed clear improvements in behavior,” Dr. Fishman said.
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