A study carried out with children and led by Yehezkel Ben-Ari, from the Mediterranean Institute of Neurobiology, has highlighted an "original therapeutic treatment", reports Thomas Bourgeron, an autism specialist at the Institut Pasteur. Over three months, 27 autistic children from a cohort of 54 aged 3 to 11 years, "received each day 1 milligramme of bumetanide, a diuretic used for decades to treat hypertension." The 27 others received a placebo daily over the same period. Eric Lemonnier, an autism specialist at Brest university hospital and the leading author of the report, gave the result: "after three months, the severity of their autistic symptoms had been reduced in 77.7% of the children given bumetanide, while 33.3% of the children given the placebo showed an improvement."
"The idea of using a diuretic […] came from the observation of an unexpected reaction of many autistic children when they are administered valium," a tranquillizer. Eric Lemonnier explains that "this tranquillizer excited them rather than calming them down, thus aggravating their symptoms." The journalist adds: "valium reinforces the action of the GABA neurotransmitter, a cerebral messenger known for inhibiting the activity of the neurones." Hence, "it seems that, with these children, the GABA excites the neurones instead of inhibiting them." For other diseases, the team of Yehezkel Ben-Ari had already found the same paradox, for example with epilepsy. Yehezkel Ben-Ari explains: "It is due to a too large concentration of chlorine in the neurones. In vitro, we showed that it could be eliminated with a diuretic." On this element, the journalist explains that "the diuretic acts by blocking a molecule used among other things by the neurones to absorb chlorine. When they once again recover a lower level of chlorine, the neurones are once again inhibited by the GABA".