Friday, April 30, 2010

A Possible Treatment for Fragile X?

There was a fascinating article in the NY Times on a new drug that shows promise in treating fragile X syndrome and holds potential for treating other disorders. We need more work like this, research in this area has the potential to greatly improve people's lives, and from a simply materialistic standpoint, save huge amounts of money. I am left at a loss to explain why so little research is being done in this field with the amount that we are already spending on simply maintaining the system we have now. Then there is also the potential to remove obstacles preventing many people from finding employment which would help grow the economy. The potential payoffs from research into this field is enormous but little is being done to fund it, either by the state or privately. According to this article, there are only five researchers currently working on this particular disorder. Why isn't more being done?


  1. I haven't read the article so consider this comment pure blow from an administrator whose company works with people who have developmental disabilities, but fragile X is, as far as I know, very rare and efforts to cure or mediate genetic disorders that affect cognition have produced some interesting books like Flowers for Algernon, some bad movies like Phenomenon and very little effect.

    But there is a great deal of controversy in the autism community about treatment versus mediation. If you ever attend an autism conference, wear kevlar.

  2. Doug, This research seems to be more proof of concept and a baby step in the right direction than a major advance on its own. But if it is successful hopefully some more research will be done, I think the potential payoff will be far greater than a new cancer drug that extends average life expectancy by an extra 2 weeks. On the whole, this is the direction I'd like to see medical research take, towards drugs that improve quality of life and less towards life extension.

    Of course not everyone will be happy with any advance but given the high percentage of people with autism that are already being medicated with drugs designed for other purposes I'd hope resistance would be limited to a few purists. Specialized medication that deals directly with underlying causes and improves a broader range of functions has to be better than what they're receiving now.