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.
“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.”
One author disclosed financial ties to the medical technology industry.