Israeli-led research team successfully tests drug for child autism

An international research group, led by Israeli experts, has successfully tested a drug for children with autism, Tel Aviv University (TAU) in central Israel said Tuesday.

The drug may help children with ADNP syndrome, one of the 10 most common genetic syndromes on the autism spectrum and characterized by mental impairment.

This syndrome is caused by a mutation in the ADNP gene, leading to a deficiency and malfunctioning of the ADNP protein which is essential for brain development.

In their study, published in the journal Translational Psychiatry, TAU researchers and their colleagues from the Czech Republic, Greece, Belgium and Croatia tested an experimental drug called NAP, originally developed for Alzheimer’s disease.

The team found NAP effective in treating nerve cells in a model of ADNP syndrome, as damaged nerve-like cells returned to normal function after being treated.

“The results show that treatment with the experimental drug will aid cognitive improvement in autistic children, and will enhance their memory and learning skills,” the researchers said.