Psychopharmacology

FDA Approves Abilify for Autism-Linked Irritability

Source: 
Associated Press
Date Published: 
November 20, 2009

Seaside Therapeutics Secures $30 Million Financing

Source: 
Reuters
Date Published: 
September 17, 2009
Abstract: 

Seaside Therapeutics LLC today announced that it has secured $30 million in financing from a private, family investment firm which is committed to advancing research in the field of autism and Fragile X Syndrome.

Lack of Efficacy of Citalopram in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders and High Levels of Repetitive Behavior

Source: 
Archives of General Psychiatry, King, Hollander, Sikich, McCracken, Scahill, Bregman, Donnelly, Anagnostou, Dukes, Sullivan, Hirtz, Wagner, Louise Ritz; for the STAART Psychopharmacology Network
Date Published: 
June 2009
Year Published: 
2009

Citalopram (Celexa), a medication commonly prescribed to children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), was no more effective than a placebo at reducing repetitive behaviors, according to a multi-site clinical trial guided by lead author Bryan King, MD, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Seattle Children's Hospital and professor and vice chair of psychiatry at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

Because citalopram is also prescribed for patients with obsessive compulsive disorders (OCD), these study results may challenge the widely held premise that repetitive behaviors in children with ASD are similar to repetitive behaviors often found in cases of OCD.

Partial reversal of Rett Syndrome-like symptoms in MeCP2 mutant mice

Source: 
PNAS, Sur, Tropea, Giacometti, et al.
Date Published: 
February 2009
Year Published: 
2009

Rett Syndrome (RTT) is a severe form of X-linked mental retardation caused by mutations in the gene coding for methyl CpG-binding protein 2 (MECP2). Mice deficient in MeCP2 have a range of physiological and neurological abnormalities that mimic the human syndrome. Here we show that systemic treatment of MeCP2 mutant mice with an active peptide fragment of Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1) extends the life span of the mice, improves locomotor function, ameliorates breathing patterns, and reduces irregularity in heart rate. In addition, treatment with IGF-1 peptide increases brain weight of the mutant mice. Multiple measurements support the hypothesis that RTT results from a deficit in synaptic maturation in the brain: MeCP2 mutant mice have sparse dendritic spines and reduced PSD-95 in motor cortex pyramidal neurons, reduced synaptic amplitude in the same neurons, and protracted cortical plasticity in vivo. Treatment with IGF-1 peptide partially restores spine density and synaptic amplitude, increases PSD-95, and stabilizes cortical plasticity to wild-type levels. Our results thus strongly suggest IGF-1 as a candidate for pharmacological treatment of RTT and potentially of other CNS disorders caused by delayed synapse maturation.

Neuropsychological performance 10 years after immunization in infancy with thimerosal-containing vaccines

Source: 
Pediatrics, Tozzi AE, Bisiacchi P, Tarantino V, De Mei B, D'Elia L, Chariotti F, Salmaso S.
Date Published: 
January 2009
Year Published: 
2009

Thimerosal, a mercury compound used as a preservative in vaccines administered during infancy, has been suspected to affect neuropsychological development. We compared the neuropsychological performance, 10 years after vaccination, of 2 groups of children exposed randomly to different amounts of thimerosal through immunization. Children who were enrolled in an efficacy trial of pertussis vaccines in 1992–1993 were contacted in 2003. Two groups of children were identified, according to thimerosal content in vaccines assigned randomly in the first year of life (cumulative ethylmercury intake of 62.5 or 137.5 µg), and were compared with respect to neuropsychological outcomes. Eleven standardized neuropsychological tests, for a total of 24 outcomes, were administered to children during school hours. Mean scores of neuropsychological tests in the domains of memory and learning, attention, executive functions, visuospatial functions, language, and motor skills were compared according to thimerosal exposure and gender. Nearly 70% of the invited subjects participated in the neuropsychological assessment (N = 1403). Among the 24 neuropsychological outcomes that were evaluated, only 2 were significantly associated with thimerosal exposure. Girls with higher thimerosal intake had lower mean scores in the finger-tapping test with the dominant hand and in the Boston Naming Test. Given the large number of statistical comparisons performed, the few associations found between thimerosal exposure and neuropsychological development might be attributable to chance. The associations found, although statistically significant, were based on small differences in mean test scores, and their clinical relevance remains to be determined.