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Autistic behavior is curbed in French animal study

MUNICH -- A drug given to pregnant mice prevented autism-like behavior in their offspring, encouraging researchers they're on the right track in testing the medicine in children with the disorder.

The study, published Tuesday in the journal Science, supports the rationale for using the medicine, called bumetanide, the lead researcher, Yehezkel Ben-Ari, said. Bumetanide was marketed by Roche Holding under the brand name Bumex as a treatment for water retention in people with congestive heart failure and now is a generic drug.

"When we started our trial, it was a hypothesis; we had no evidence whatsoever," Ben-Ari, a researcher at the Mediterranean Institute of Neurobiology in Marseille, France, said of the midstage trial in children. "This research doesn't prove it, but it does validate our strategy."

There are no drugs that cure autism or treat its core symptoms, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, so researchers and patient advocates are eager for any evidence of a promising treatment.

-- Bloomberg News

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