Do animal models hold value in Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) drug discovery?
Chadman, K.K.; Fernandes, S.; DiLiberto, E.; Feingold, R.
Expert Opinion on Drug Discovery 14(8): 727-734
ISSN/ISBN: 1746-0441 PMID: 31132011 DOI: 10.1080/17460441.2019.1621285
Introduction: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) defines impairments in a broad range of behaviors in two domains, social communication and repetitive behaviors and/or restricted interests. Drug discovery is ongoing for ASD, but no drugs have been approved for the core behaviors. Animal models are invaluable for drug discovery, but are limited by the face, construct, and predictive validity for ASD. The genetic construct validity of animal models has provided potential targets including biological events early in development which are indeed challenging to treat pharmacologically. Areas covered: The focus of this review is on the current models for ASD being used to test potential therapeutics. Drugs reviewed include sulforaphane, propranolol, oxytocin, vasopressin antagonists, arbaclofen, and bumetanide, that have been evaluated on behaviors with face validity for both the core behaviors of ASD, social and repetitive behaviors, and the modifying behaviors including learning and memory. Expert opinion: Animal models for the core symptoms of ASD have suffered from the same problems hampering research in humans, including lack of a biomarker, heterogeneity of symptom severity, and appropriate endpoints for evaluation. Despite this, the data from animal models has allowed several drugs to move on to clinical testing.