SEP 18, 2022 7:10 AM PDT

Anti-Diarrhea Drug May Treat Main Symptoms of Autism

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

Loperamide, a common anti-diarrhea drug, may treat the social symptoms of autism. The corresponding study was published in Frontiers in Pharmacology

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurological and developmental disorder that affects key aspects of behavior, communication, and learning. While it can be diagnosed at any age, it is considered a 'developmental disorder' as symptoms typically become apparent within the first two years of life. Multiple factors are thought to contribute to the condition, including genetics and environmental factors. 

“There are no medications currently approved for the treatment of social communication deficits, the main symptom in ASD,” said Dr. Elise Koch of the University of Oslo, lead author of the study. “However, most adults and about half of children and adolescents with ASD are treated with antipsychotic drugs, which have serious side effects or lack efficacy in ASD.”

In the current study, the researchers searched a computer-based protein interaction network to identify drug candidates that may counteract the biological processes underlying ASD. In the end, they identified four potential drugs with the potential to treat the condition.

The most promising of these drugs is known as Loperamide, and is a common anti-diarrheal medication that binds to and activates the μ-opioid receptor. Normally affected by opioid drugs such as morphine, the drug is known both to induce pain relief and affect social behavior. 

The researchers noted that previous research found that mice genetically engineered to lack the μ-opioid receptor had similar social deficits to those with ASD, and that drugs that activated the receptor restored social behaviors. 

The researchers wrote that while their study identified potential new drugs for autism, further research is needed to test them. They concluded: “Based on our bioinformatics analyses of ASD genetics, we shortlist potential drug repurposing candidates that warrant clinical translation to treat ASD-specific symptoms.”

 

Sources: Neuroscience News, Frontiers in Pharmacology

 

About the Author
University College London
Annie Lennon is a writer whose work also appears in Medical News Today, Psych Central, Psychology Today, and other outlets. When she's not writing, she is COO of Xeurix, an HR startup that assesses jobfit from gamified workplace simulations.
You May Also Like
JUL 07, 2022
Cell & Molecular Biology
Mini-Kidneys Reveal New Insights, Treatments for Multiple Disorders
JUL 07, 2022
Mini-Kidneys Reveal New Insights, Treatments for Multiple Disorders
Researchers have been able to use animal models to study human disease, but there are clear limitations to that approach ...
JUL 13, 2022
Neuroscience
Does a High-fat Diet Shrink the Brain?
JUL 13, 2022
Does a High-fat Diet Shrink the Brain?
A study published in Metabolic Brain Disease found an association between high-fat diets and several health diseases. In ...
JUL 14, 2022
Plants & Animals
Using Worms to Study Precision Medicine
JUL 14, 2022
Using Worms to Study Precision Medicine
Personalized medicine refers to making decisions about treatment that are optimized to a specific individual, often as a ...
AUG 09, 2022
Immunology
New Small Molecule May Improve Immunotherapy for a Variety of Cancers
AUG 09, 2022
New Small Molecule May Improve Immunotherapy for a Variety of Cancers
Scientists have been trying to stimulate the immune system to fight cancer for decades, and recent years have brought ma ...
AUG 17, 2022
Neuroscience
The Research Value of Patient Medical Records and Samples
AUG 17, 2022
The Research Value of Patient Medical Records and Samples
A majority of patients want notification about the potential uses of their medical records or samples according to a stu ...
SEP 04, 2022
Neuroscience
The Facts About Fentanyl & Its Impact on the Brain
SEP 04, 2022
The Facts About Fentanyl & Its Impact on the Brain
You've probably heard of fentanyl, an extremely powerful, synthetic opioid that is used as a sedative, and sometimes ...
Loading Comments...