A research programme that will explore the biology of autism to tailor treatments and develop new medicines
AIMS-2-TRIALS stands for Autism Innovative Medicine Studies-2-Trials. It began in June 2018 and will run until May 2023. The research programme includes a range of studies carried out by different groups. These will explore how autism develops, from before birth to adulthood, and how this varies in different people. We will look for biological markers which indicate whether a person has or may develop particular characteristics. These markers could help to identify who may ultimately benefit from particular treatments. We will also test medicines to help with social difficulties, repetitive behaviours and sensory processing. To accelerate medicine development, we will build a network of connected people across Europe and beyond. AIMS-2-TRIALS will put Europe at the forefront of autism research.
Around 5.5 million people in Europe have autism, which affects the way that they communicate and experience the world. Approximately 70% of autistic people also have co-occurring conditions, such as anxiety, depression or epilepsy, which affect their wellbeing. It has been difficult to develop treatments for autism and these co-occurring conditions because autism is incredibly diverse, varying between people and across different stages of life.
- Understand how autism, and its co-occurring health conditions, develop from before birth into adulthood
- Identify features of autism that can be measured, called biomarkers
- Test new medicines for those who may choose to use them
- Build a network to connect researchers, clinicians and the autism community
- Prepare Europe to pioneer large clinical trials of future medicines
- Improve and accelerate the process of developing new medicines
- Analyse and manage the data collected in research
- Explore how policies on autism can better support autistic people
- Develop educational tools to improve understanding of autism
- Put Europe at the forefront of autism research
The key objectives were defined by our main funder, the Innovative Medicines Initiative. Many of these objectives correspond with the priorities of the autism community. We will work with representatives of the community and attempt to integrate their views into our future work.
Our position on a cure for autism
We know that while some people want a cure for themselves, their child or a relative, there are others who are opposed to this. AIMS-2-TRIALS does not aim to cure autism. We do aim to understand autism better and to test medical treatments that could alleviate specific difficulties that some autistic people experience. The core characteristics of autism are part of an autistic person’s unique personality. However, in some people, these traits can become symptoms that are disabling or cause distress. We will test whether medical treatments could help with some of these unwanted symptoms. Our work could also help to inform the future development of non-medical options.