HealthDay News — Bumetanide seems effective for improving symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in young children, according to a study published online Jan. 27 in Translational Psychiatry.

Lingli Zhang, from the Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, and colleagues examined the efficacy of bumetanide in a trial involving 83 children with ASD, aged 3 to 6 years, who were randomly assigned to receive bumetanide or no bumetanide (control).

The researchers found that the bumetanide group had a significant reduction in symptom severity compared with the control group, as indicated by the total Children Autism Rating Scale score and number of items assigned a score of ≥3. The Clinical Global Impressions confirmed the improvement in clinical symptoms. In both the insular cortex (IC) and visual cortex, the γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)/glutamate ratio decreased more rapidly during the three-month period in the bumetanide versus the control group. In the bumetanide group, this decrease in the IC correlated with symptom improvement.

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“This study is important and exciting because it means that there is a drug that can improve social learning and reduce ASD symptoms during the time when the brains of these children are still developing,” one coauthor said in a statement. “We know that GABA and glutamate are key chemicals in the brain for plasticity and learning, and so these children should have an opportunity for better quality of life and well-being.”


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One author disclosed financial ties to the medical technology industry.

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