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AE partner in research network to design personalised medicine approaches

Autism-Europe is a partner in a new consortium called the Innovative Medicine Studies-2-Trials (AIMS-2-Trials). The objective of this research grant is to increase the understanding of autism and help develop new therapies to improve health outcomes and quality of life for autistic people.

In addition to the core features of autism, many autistic people have co-occurring conditions such as epilepsy, anxiety and depression, and life expectancy for autistic people can be reduced by up to 30 years. However, there are very few effective and autism-appropriate therapies.

In line with the autism community’s priorities, the consortium will also focus on why some autistic people develop additional health problems that severely impact both quality and length of life.

Professor Declan Murphy, the project’s academic lead and Director of the Sackler Institute for Translational Neurodevelopment at the IoPPN at King’s College (UK) says: ‘Many autistic people face extremely poor health outcomes […]. This grant will allow us to bridge the gap between basic biology and the clinic by offering personalised approaches that address problems which really impact autistic people’s lives.’

All autistic people are different, which makes identifying and testing new therapies challenging. AIMS-2-Trials will take a precision medicine approach aimed at tailoring therapies to a person’s biological profile. Achieving this will require developing tests that can predict how a person’s autism may progress throughout development and their likelihood of developing additional mental health problems.

AIMS-2-Trials will create the first European clinical trials network for autism, as well as allowing for an internationally integrated partnership with charities, government agencies and industry to rapidly determine if therapies are effective.

Partnership with autistic people, their families and carers will be a crucial part of developing therapies that achieve the outcomes that matter most to autistic people.

Autism-Europe’s role

At Autism-Europe, we decided to take part in this research grant in order to help shape research that is respectful and focused on improving the quality of lives of autistic people, and takes into account the concerns expressed by some of our members across Europe. Issues raised within our membership pertained to the need for involvement not only consultation; ethical issues about effective informed consent, possible side effects and addiction, fear related to eugenics; need for open access of research data.

Autism-Europe is cooperating with Autistica and the University of Cambridge to create a platform to involve autistic people and their families. Therefore, we will form an EU-wide panel gathering representatives of the autistic community to influence the work conducted by AIMS-2-Trials.

The aim of this panel will be to provide an independent voice within the consortium. The recruitment process will start soon, and will be open to people in countries taking part in the research, including from beyond Autism-Europe’s membership.

About the project

The Innovative Medicine Studies-2-Trials (AIMS-2-Trials) is the largest research grant (€115 million grant) ever given for neurodevelopmental conditions. It has been awarded by the Innovative Medicines Initiative to an international consortium academically co-led by the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London and F. Hoffmann-La Roche, Basel.