PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa., Nov. 15, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- A promising new clinical trial found that treatment with folinic acid improves verbal communication in children with autism - just as the first tests for measuring the prevalence of folate blockers are reaching the market.
The study of 48 children showed that an active folate metabolite - folinic acid - improved verbal communications significantly more than a placebo treatment. The treatment was particularly effective in kids who also had antibodies to the folate receptor. "This study supports the notion that measurements of FRAA (Folate Receptor Alpha Antibodies) prior to a trial of folinic acid may be helpful in predicting response," the study by Dr. Richard Frye and co-authors concludes. The study is titled, "Folinic acid improves verbal communication in children with autism and language impairment: a randomized double-blind placebo controlled trial." Lack of folate - a key vitamin essential for proper development of most tissues, including neuronal and brain development - is one factor that may contribute to the development of autism. One explanation for reduced levels of folate in the brain is the occurrence of high levels of antibodies to the receptor, which can block folate transport. Iliad Neurosciences, Inc., which develops innovative approaches to diagnosing and treating Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), is the only firm that performs the assays for FRAA in a CLIA certified laboratory. The assays, known as FRAT (Folate Receptor Antibodies Test), are covered by a US patent. "The paucity of effective therapies for children with autism is a concern for parents and physicians alike," said Iliad president and CEO, Dr. Boas Gonen. "Any new therapy, for a subset of patients with autism, is an important event that should be celebrated," he added. "We are continuing to search for additional biomarkers that can identify effective therapies."