Showing posts with label Simons Foundation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Simons Foundation. Show all posts

Wednesday 13 May 2015

Arbaclofen Given a Second Chance by the Simons Foundation

 Light at the end of the tunnel, for some

I did recently write about autism drugs that target the GABAB receptor.

Western doctors have Baclofen and a few did have experimental use of the more potent version called Arbaclofen, or R-Baclofen.  We saw that Russian doctors have a wider choice.

The rights to use Arbaclofen have been acquired by the Simons Foundation, and they intend to restart autism trials in humans.

Arbaclofen was found to be effective in some people with Fragile-X and autism, but it failed its clinical trial and the developer, Seaside Therapeutics, went out of business.

The Simons Foundation, for those who do not know, is probably the best thing to ever happen to people with autism.  The founder of the foundation is an American multi-billionaire, former fund manager and mathematician.  He has a daughter with autism and decided to do something about it.

Having already funded a great deal of research, including by some of the scientists on my Dean’s List, it looks like he is going one step further and taking ownership over the trial drugs themselves.  Being a mathematician he is not averse to funding the most complex areas of research which include genetics and ion channels.  Being a fund manager he understands risk.  Being rich also helps, but you also need to be philanthropic.

Given the poor performance to date of developing practical therapies from the vast wealth of existing autism research, this is a very encouraging development.

There is now a large industry being made out of autism research, but the only coordinated part of it seems to be the Simons Foundation.  Interestingly the Simons Foundation focuses its effort on the very best scientists and not the existing autism researchers.  Apparently they want Nobel Laureates and future Nobel Laureates.  That sounds good to me.

Some people are concerned that by focusing on specific areas like genetics, the Simons Foundation may miss other possibly fruitful avenues.  But it is usually the case that an intelligent person's well thought out strategy is better than no strategy, and, at the end of the day, Simons’ billions are his to spend as he pleases.

Hopefully Simons will do for autism, what Bill and Melinda Gates are doing for polio and malaria.