KU Med School seeking applicants for autism study

The University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita is seeking participants in the Wichita and Hutchinson areas for a global clinical research program for children with autism spectrum disorders, according to a news release.

The program, ConnectMe, is for children six through 12 with autism, Asperger’s Disorder and Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS).

The trial will evaluate the safety and effectiveness of a drug containing memantine hydrochloride on social interaction, communication and repetitive behaviors in children with autism. The drug is currently FDA approved for use in elderly patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

Russell Scheffer, a medical doctor and professor in the school’s psychiatry and behavioral sciences department is leading the study locally.

“The unique part about this study is there’s preliminary evidence that the medication might get at the core symptoms of autism, which has never been done,” Scheffer said.

The medication blocks the action of glutamate, a neurotransmitter that causes stimulation of neurons, Scheffer said.

The trial is sponsored by Forest Research Institute Inc. Scheffer said the school receives funding from Forest, but that he does not directly receive money for his work on the trial.

There is some money available to help reimburse families for travel and related expenses if they participate, Scheffer said.

For more information, visit or call 877-900-8735.