Currently, there are no FDA approved pharmaceuticals that effectively treat core symptoms of ASD: social communication, restrictive interests, repetitive speech and movement, and restrictive interests that interfere with day-to-day life. Today’s treatments are inefficient and inexact because we lack a good understanding of why neurodevelopment in individuals with ASD has deviated from the typical path.
CAR actively participates in clinical trials of new medications that stem from knowledge of how biology is altered in ASD. One current clinical trial is based on discoveries from our labs about the importance of a specific family of genes for ASD – the metabotropic glutamate receptors, or mGluRs. Importantly, certain MGlu receptors present a potential target for a drug that modulate a specific cellular process. Such a medication has now been tested at CHOP with promising, but preliminary results.
Translating and Disseminating Treatments to the Community
Our Implementation Science program in collaboration with Penn’s Center for Mental Health Policy & Services Research studies the reasons why behavioral and education interventions that are proven successful in a university or medical research setting are often not successful when scaled up to community settings.
Barriers to success in real-world settings include inadequate training and resources for community providers to guide their use of evidence-based treatments and interventions. In addition, local, state and federal policies are not designed to incentivize the accurate use of evidence-based practices for individuals with ASD. There are few funds available for training, and few payers provide extra reimbursement for use of evidence-based practices. Our implementation Science program develops and tests strategies to address each of these barriers by linking the best research and evaluation findings to policy decisions, and the delivery and implementation of services. .