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TARGETING THE NEUROBIOLOGY OF RESTRICTED AND REPETITIVE BEHAVIORS IN CHILDREN WITH AUTISM USING N-ACETYLCYSTEINE: RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED TRIAL

April 26, 2023 - June 27, 2026

Stanford University is recruiting children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) for a research study looking at the parts of the brain that may underlie some restricted and repetitive behaviors (RRB) in children with ASD using N-acetylcysteine (NAC), an over-the-counter dietary supplement. We will use MRI and EEG to determine what changes in the brain may be related to change in RRB severity.

What are the goals of the study?

We hope to learn the mechanisms in the brain through which NAC may be able to alter the severity of RRB in children with ASD and examine whether it might be able to reduce the severity of some of RRB symptoms. We also hope to determine how NAC is able to affect RRB symptoms in children with ASD and what changes in the brain may be related to change in RRB severity.

What will happen during the visit or online?

complete cognitive and behavioral assessments (such as IQ testing)
attempt an MRI and EEG scan
drink N-acetyl cysteine dissolved in water for a total of 12-week period

How will this help families?

Potential benefits include monitored access to utilize NAC, which cannot necessarily be considered treatment for any specific condition in children with ASD at this time. It is also likely that the knowledge gained from this study may generally contribute to better treatment options for children with ASD more broadly.

Eligibility Criteria
  1. Children between 3 years and 12 years 11 months
  2. Diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder confirmed with the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised and the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule-2, Brief Observation of Symptoms of Autism, or Childhood Autism Rating Scale
  3. At least moderate severity of restricted and repetitive behaviors defined by a Children’s Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale in ASD score ≥ 11
  4. Physical development indicative of prepubescence as defined by criteria for Tanner Stage 1
  5. Medically stable
  6. Passes MR safety screening (e.g., no metal in the body) and attempts baseline neuroimaging (MRI or EEG)
  7. Have stable medication regimens (≥ 30 days) and psychosocial treatments (≥ 60 days) prior to randomization with no anticipated changes during the trial.

View the study flyer here

Check eligibility and register your interest at https://redcap.link/NACandAutism

Contact Information

Katie Hodges – autismresearch@stanford.edu 650-723-3420

Research Study Website
Stanford School of Medicine Autism and Developmental Disorders Research Program

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