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Clinical Trial Summary

The purpose of this study is to demonstrate the feasibility of a 9-week, randomized trial of N-acetylcysteine (NAC) compared to placebo in 14 children (age 5 to 12 years) with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and a moderate level of repetitive self-injurious behavior (SIB). Additional aims are to evaluate the positive predictive value of a screening method to classify children with automatically maintained self-injurious behavior; to evaluate the preliminary efficacy of NAC for reducing repetitive SIB in children with ASD; and to evaluate biomarkers and possible mechanisms of action of NAC in children with ASD.

Clinical Trial Description

Self-injurious behavior (SIB) in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can cause physical harm to the child and interfere with the child's ability to make use of educational programs and helpful treatments such as speech therapy. The turmoil caused by self-injurious behaviors in children with ASD invariably interferes with daily routines because family life often stops during these episodes and family members worry about setting off SIB between episodes. This project will use the detailed assessment methods developed in the field of behavior therapy to evaluate the potential for N-acetylcysteine (NAC) to treat children with ASD and moderate repetitive SIB. NAC is an over-the-counter dietary supplement that may have beneficial effects on the brain through its well-documented antioxidant effects and/or reduced glutamate signaling. In the proposed study, 14 children with ASD and repetitive SIB between the ages of 5 and 12 will be randomly assigned to gradually increasing doses of NAC or placebo for 9 weeks. The research team, parents and children will be blind to the treatment with NAC or placebo. Participants will come to the research site periodically to complete measures and behavioral assessments. After the 9 weeks of treatment, children randomized to NAC who showed improvement will be encouraged to continue taking the supplement outside the study. Children who were randomly assigned to the placebo and showed no improvement will be offered open-label treatment with NAC. Children who did not improve while taking NAC or those who improved while on the placebo will be advised on next steps by the study team. The goal of this feasibility study is establish the acceptability viability of study procedures in this vulnerable population, to learn about the potential benefits and adverse effects of NAC. Demonstrating these feasibility aims and the preliminary efficacy and safety of NAC is a prerequisite for planning a larger, more definitive, study. ;

Study Design

Related Conditions & MeSH terms

NCT number NCT03008889
Study type Interventional
Source Emory University
Status Completed
Phase Phase 2
Start date July 5, 2018
Completion date September 12, 2019

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