Secretin for the Treatment of Autism

The safety and scientific validity of this study is the responsibility of the study sponsor and investigators. Listing a study does not mean it has been evaluated by the U.S. Federal Government. Read our disclaimer for details. Identifier: NCT00065962
Recruitment Status : Completed
First Posted : August 5, 2003
Last Update Posted : June 24, 2005
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Information provided by:
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)

August 1, 2003
August 5, 2003
June 24, 2005
June 1999
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No Changes Posted
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Secretin for the Treatment of Autism
Multisite Controlled Secretin Trial in Autism
Many drugs used to treat autism target specific symptoms, such as hyperactivity and aggressiveness. Few drugs target the core autistic symptoms of impaired social interaction and communication. This study will evaluate two forms of the drug secretin for the treatment of core autistic symptoms.

Autism is a disorder characterized by impairments of social interactions, verbal and nonverbal communication, and preoccupation with unusual activities or interests, particularly stereotyped or repetitive movements. This debilitating disorder is estimated to occur in 2 to 10 of every 10,000 births. A primary focus in pyschopharmacological intervention has been to treat specific associated symptoms, such as hyperactivity, aggressiveness, and temper tantrums; there are few pharmacologic treatments directed toward core autistic symptoms.

Secretin is a gut hormone with binding sites in the brain. Previous research has described three patients with autism who underwent diagnostic endoscopy for gastrointestinal complaints and experienced dramatic improvement in autistic symptoms following the administration of intravenous secretin given as part of endoscopy. Though the results of this single, uncontrolled study have limited interpretive value, many autistic children have been exposed and continue to be exposed to this potential treatment in an uncontrolled manner. This double blind, placebo-controlled trial will evaluate the safety and efficacy of secretin for the treatment of autism.

Participants will be randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups: synthetic porcine secretin (sPS), biologically derived porcine secretin (bPS), or placebo. Each participant will be given an initial intravenous dose of 0.1 ml of their assigned treatment at the appropriate dose (0.2 ug for sPS and 1 CU for bPS). If no allergic reaction occurs within one minute, the participants will continue in the study and receive the full remaining dose over one minute. Participants will be evaluated one week before and four weeks after infusion for social, communication, and behavioral functioning as measured by Autistic Diagnostic Observation Schedule Generic (by blinded raters); Rimland Questionnaires (by parents and teachers); Expressive Vocabulary Test; MacArthur Communication Inventory (by parents and teachers); and Aberrant Behavior Checklist (by parents and teachers). Participants will also have a physical exam and blood and urine tests. After completion of preliminary data analysis, placebo patients will be offered open label therapy if appropriate.

Phase 3
Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Factorial Assignment
Masking: Double
Primary Purpose: Treatment
  • Drug: secretin, synthetic porcine
  • Drug: secretin, biologically derived porcine
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Unis AS, Munson JA, Rogers SJ, Goldson E, Osterling J, Gabriels R, Abbott RD, Dawson G. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of porcine versus synthetic secretin for reducing symptoms of autism. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2002 Nov;41(11):1315-21.

*   Includes publications given by the data provider as well as publications identified by Identifier (NCT Number) in Medline.
Same as current
May 2000
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Inclusion Criteria

  • Autism based on DSM-IV criteria
  • IQ > 35
  • Medically fit for the study in the judgment of the study officials

Exclusion Criteria

  • Prior administration of secretin
  • Acute or chronic pancreatitis
  • Use of anticholinergics within 72 hours of study entry or anticipated need for anticholinergics during study
  • Allergies to pork products
  • Use of investigational drug within 1 month of study entry
  • Change in any medication or other therapeutic modality being used to treat any neurodevelopmental or gastrointestinal symptoms of the underlying autism disorder within 1 month of study entry
  • Any medical condition which, in the judgment of the investigator, would make the patient unable to safely participate in the study or comply with all study procedures
  • Any medical diagnosis which could account for autistic spectrum disorder (i.e., Rett syndrome, Fragile X, tuberous sclerosis, disintegrative disorder, epilepsy, Landau Kleffner, other mental retardation syndromes, or history of severe motor delays or current sensory or motor impairment such as cerebral palsy)
  • Hearing or visual impairments
  • Use of psychotropic medications (except for occasional symptomatic use for sleep, etc.) within 6 months of study entry
Sexes Eligible for Study: All
3 Years to 12 Years   (Child)
Contact information is only displayed when the study is recruiting subjects
United States
5P01HD035465( U.S. NIH Grant/Contract )
5P01HD035465 ( U.S. NIH Grant/Contract )
Supplement CRC99-3
3P01HD035468 ( U.S. NIH Grant/Contract )
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Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Study Director: Alan Unis, MD University of Washington
Principal Investigator: Geraldine Dawson, PhD University of Washington
Study Director: Edward Goldson, MD University of Colorado, Denver
Principal Investigator: Sally Rogers, PhD University of Colorado, Denver
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
June 2003

ICMJE     Data element required by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors and the World Health Organization ICTRP