In 2017, facing lack of progress and failures encountered in targeted drug development for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and related neurodevelopmental disorders, the ISCTM with the ECNP created the ASD Working Group charged to identify barriers to progress and recommending research strategies for the field to gain traction. Working Group international academic, regulatory and industry representatives held multiple in-person meetings, teleconferences, and subgroup communications to gather a wide range of perspectives on lessons learned from extant studies, current challenges, and paths for fundamental advances in ASD therapeutics. This overview delineates the barriers identified, and outlines major goals for next generation biomedical intervention development in ASD. Current challenges for ASD research are many: heterogeneity, lack of validated biomarkers, need for improved endpoints, prioritizing molecular targets, comorbidities, and more. The Working Group emphasized cautious but unwavering optimism for therapeutic progress for ASD core features given advances in the basic neuroscience of ASD and related disorders. Leveraging genetic data, intermediate phenotypes, digital phenotyping, big database discovery, refined endpoints, and earlier intervention, the prospects for breakthrough treatments are substantial. Recommendations include new priorities for expanded research funding to overcome challenges in translational clinical ASD therapeutic research.
Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier B.V.