Autism – Use of Memantine for Autism Symptoms
Dr. Robert Hendren, director of the Autism and Neurodevelopment Program at UCSF, is beginning a new clinical research study using an experimental medication for the treatment of autism – memantine. Memantine is currently used to treat adults with Alzheimer’s disease, but has been prescribed to over 80 children with autism. No serious side effects have been reported by these children or their parents and it is hoped that memantine may benefit the core symptoms in some children with autism: socialization and communication.
This study will compare memantine to placebo (an inactive substance, like a sugar pill), so there is a 50% chance that your child would receive the placebo. The study will last twelve weeks, and will involve 8 visits to Dr. Hendren’s office. During the course of the study your child will receive a thorough diagnostic evaluation, physical exams, monitoring of blood pressure, pulse, height and weight and frequent examination of symptoms of autism. It would be necessary to draw blood from your child five times during the study. These blood draws will be done by a pediatric specialist.
After completion of the twelve week study you and your child will have the option to continue for another 48 weeks (almost a year). In this second phase of the study there will be no placebo, so every child will receive the active memantine. The researchers would continue to monitor your child’s blood pressure, pulse, height, weight and autism symptoms during this phase and would need to collect blood four or five more times. There is no cost to participating in the study and we can provide a small payment at each visit to help cover the expenses of time, travel and parking.
Study Design 12 weeks double blind, placebo controlled followed by an optional 48 weeks of open-label memantine
- Child is 6-12 years old
- Child has a diagnosis of Autistic Disorder
- Child has an IQ of 50 or greater (we will test)
- Child has no serious medical illnesses (including epilepsy, seizures, Tourette's syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, fragile X syndrome, velocardiofacial syndrome)
- Child must use at least phrase speech
- English must be primary language of child
Payment $40 for initial visit, $20 for each additional visit