Boston’s Autism Mini-Cluster: New Drugs and Diagnostics Target Mysterious Brain Disorders

7/22/10

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the skin to measure people’s emotional states. The sensor is being used in an autism sleep disorder study, according to the company. The firm, which revealed it raised $1.7 million in November 2009, says it sprouted from research at the MIT Media Lab aimed at helping people with autism. Its technology is also being developed as a marketing tool to detect consumers’ emotional states, according to its website.

Autism Consortium
Boston, MA

Housed at Harvard Medical School, this nonprofit group fosters collaboration among academics, families, and others with a stake in advancing research of autism spectrum disorders. There are a pair of familiar biotech investors on the group’s board of directors: Peter Barrett, a partner at Atlas Venture, is chairman of the consortium; and Alan Crane, a general partner at Polaris Venture Partners, is vice chairman. The group is hosting its second annual symposium that covers some of the latest innovations in autism research on October 26 at Harvard Medical School.

Cellceutix
Beverly, MA

This small drug developer aims to make a big impact on the lives of people with autism. In a study done in rats, the firm’s experimental drug, KM-391, corrected abnormal behavior, improved brain plasticity, and increased serotonin levels. Earlier this month, I spoke to the company’s CEO, George Evans, a former general counsel for the prescription drug unit of the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer (NYSE: PFE). He and his team say the firm aims to launch initial human studies of its autism drug next year. Yet the firm’s lead drug candidate is an anti-cancer compound. (BusinessWeek wrote a feature in January about the drug industry’s increased interest in autism, though it didn’t mention Cellceutix’s nascent efforts.)

Harvard Medical School
Boston, MA

Watch for major papers on autism floating down from the ivory towers of … Next Page »

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