Autism researchers seek clinical trial participants in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Las Vegas is just one of 25 cities across the United States and abroad chosen for an experimental study looking specifically at managing the irritability that often accompanies autism.

It’s a decision every parent has to make, what’s best for your child.

For Heather-Lei Ambos, it’s not an easy decision for her son, who has autism.

“I don’t want to put my 8-year-old on antipsychotics if I don’t have to,” she said. “He will shout, sometimes hit. Lots of sensory issues and when overloaded he goes wild.

Ambos said she even had to install special locks to keep her son safe.

“The dementia locks in to keep him from going out when he’s in the mood because he’ll climb the fence,” she explained.

Currently, there are not many treatment options available for teens struggling with autism.

Dr. Ann Childress is an adjunct associate professor at UNLV and Touro University and outlines the challenges some parents may face.

“Among autistic patients, about 20% probably have irritability and aggression. Irritability can include biting, kicking, screaming, tantrums,” she said.

That’s where the 2004 Assembly Bill comes in, it targets a bacteria in the gut that researchers say

may be responsible for some of these bad behaviors.

The drug, which can be sprinkled in food, is not absorbed into the bloodstream.

“It binds these bacterial toxins,” says Childress.

She has worked on about 200 clinical trials and is now looking for teens ages 13 to 17 to participate in a study taking place in the Las Vegas Valley.

“It’s a couple thousand dollars worth of free medical care,” she added.

This is a double-blind study, which means some teens will receive the drug and others will receive a placebo.

Dr Childress added that early results are promising.

Ambos’ son is not old enough to participate in the study, however, she hopes the assembly bill is in their future because as her son grows and gets stronger, she says that it became more difficult.

“Even if he can’t grow to be functional enough to live on his own, we would like to keep him at home. And with aggression, physical aggression, that will not be possible,” Ambos added.

The study lasts eight weeks and includes six doctor visits.

For more information on the autism study, click HERE.

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