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Autism research centre’s Dr. Evdokia Anagnostou receives $760,000 to conduct groundbreaking work in the treatment of anxiety in children and youth with ASD

The autism research centre (ARC) at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital (Holland Bloorview) has received fantastic news from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). Over $760,000 in funds have been granted to Dr. Evdokia Anagnostou, senior scientist at the Bloorview Research Institute (BRI) for her projected titled “Treatment of Anxiety in Children and youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder”.

Over the next four years, Dr. Anagnostou aims to evaluate the safety and efficacy of sertraline vs. placebo for the treatment of anxiety in children and youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) using a phase II, pilot, randomized, placebo controlled trial design. This research represents the first randomized clinical trial of SSRIs for the treatment of anxiety in youth with ASD. Given how little is known about treatment response to medication in this population, Dr. Anagnostou’s research will be critical to the development of a pivotal study and has tremendous potential to make important advances in health outcomes by informing clinical practice.

ASD is a neurodevelopmental disorder affecting almost 1.5 per cent of youth in North America, and is often characterized by social communication deficits and repetitive behavior. Individuals with ASD often present with a variety of other co-occuring conditions, including anxiety, ADHD, OCD, and intellectual disability. Anxiety is common in this population and can have significant impact daily function and quality of life.

The autism research centre at Holland Bloorview conducts research aimed at improving outcomes and quality of life for children with ASD and their families. Its research encompasses many areas including genetics and biology, innovative technologies, developmental and behavioural interventions, and new care models.