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Creating a World Without Autism, Mitochondrial & Chronic Diseases

Raised toward our $50,000 Goal
78 Donors
Project has ended
Project ended on November 30, at 11:59 PM PST
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Creating a World Without Autism, Mitochondrial & Chronic Diseases




One in 68 children in the United States is on the autism spectrum. Mitochodrial disease impacts over 50,000 children and adults. Approximately 1 million Americans are battling chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Each year, close to 6,000 people are diagnosed with ALS and given a two- to five-year life expectancy. These and many other chronic diseases can be traced to mitochondrial dysfunction. The personal and public health cost of these complex conditions exceed $2 trillion annually, and many have no viable treatments, let alone a cure.

Support Dr. Robert K. Naviaux, MD, PhD and his team as they research the underlying biology of autism, mitochondrial disease and other chronic diseases and aim for the first and only pharmaceutical treatment for autism. 100% of your gift goes directly to Dr. Naviaux’s lab and is tax deductible through the UCSD Foundation!

The Naviaux Lab at UC San Diego is doing innovative research to understand the natural healing cycle in mitochondria based on Cell Danger Response (CDR) Theory, a theory which he developed in 2008 grounded on over 20 years of mitochondrial research. 

How do cells get “stuck” in distress leading to autism and other chronic diseases?  How do we unblock these cells so that they can resume the normal healing cycle?

Suramin is one answer. A single dose of suramin, a century‐old drug originally used for African sleeping sickness, provides significant reduction in the core symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Dr. Naviaux’s lab showed that suramin inhibits the signaling function of ATP -an enzyme which is released when a cell senses danger and is unnecessary once the body has healed. Limiting the release of ATP communicates to cells that they are no longer threatened and can return to normal neurodevelopment, growth and healing. When given in a single dose, suramin was found to be safe and to dramatically improve the core symptoms of autism.

Children in our first suramin clinical trial in 2016 showed:

  • Enhanced language speaking their first words and full sentences;

  • Increased social interaction wanted to say hello and looking people in the eye; and

  • Reduced repetitive and restricted behaviors

  • Showed increased benefits from their usual therapies and enrichment programs

Additional trials are in development to test if continued treatment can lead to even further improvements. Dr. Naviaux also believes this therapy may prove effective for CFS and other chronic diseases. 

As with most academic research institutions, The Naviaux Lab is highly dependent on external funding for infrastructural support, such as for essential personnel and resources, which fuels its continued innovation. Support for Dr. Naviaux’s lab provides funding for:

  • Fellowships for the most aspiring research post-doctoral students

  • In depth research on cell danger theory

  • Understanding the mechanisms of the healing process and uncover the root causes of autism, chronic fatigue syndrome and other chronic diseases

  • Critical technology and equipment for metabolomic studies

  • Discovery of new treatments and therapeutics

  • Infrastructure for clinical trials

GIVE NOW to be a part of accelerating the possibility of bringing this unparalleled research and treatment to patients worldwide.


For more information about Dr. Robert K. Naviaux and the Naviaux Lab, visit



For published data regarding Dr. Naviaux’s first clinical trial using suramin for ASD, please reference the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology.

For more details, including the parent testimonials of the five children who received suramin, please refer to UC San Diego's suramin media package.




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