Autism Speaks, the world's leading autism science and advocacy organization, today announced the launch of the Preclinical Autism Consortium for Therapeutics (PACT). In close collaboration with Autism Speaks, veteran autism researchers Jacqueline Crawley at the University of California Davis MIND Institute, Mustafa Sahin at the Boston Children's Hospital and Richard Paylor at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, are partnering in an effort to facilitate the discovery of effective treatments for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
The unmet medical needs for autism are profound with no FDA-approved medications currently available to treat the primary symptoms. There are a few promising new medications for autism in early and late-stage clinical trials, but those are not enough to answer the call for treatments that improve the quality of life for individuals with autism.
"We created PACT to de-risk the early phases of the medicines discovery and development process for autism spectrum disorder," said Daniel Smith, senior director of discovery neuroscience for Autism Speaks. "Our goals are to increase success of autism medications development, attract more investment to the field and increase the quality of new medications advancing toward the marketplace."
Working together, the PACT team is developing a platform of preclinical tests to evaluate and compare new medications for the core symptoms of autism. PACT will build and validate an expansive group of tests including assessments of social, repetitive and sensory behaviors, anxiety, hyperactivity, cognitive and brain activity patterns in cutting-edge rat and mouse models of genetic risk for autism.