In what is believed to be a first of its kind move, drug maker Pfizer has launched an autism research unit to identify new treatments for the developmental disorder.

Despite the large number of people with autism who are treated with prescription medications, only one drug — Johnson & Johnson’s antipsychotic Risperidone — is approved specifically for kids with autism by the Food and Drug Administration.

But Pfizer’s move to create a division specifically looking at autism is encouraging, advocates say. They’re hopeful that such a division can identify existing drugs that could help people with autism and develop new drugs specifically with this population in mind.

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Ultimately, Pfizer researchers hope to find a way to prevent autism. But, in the short term they will be looking at alleviating symptoms affecting all or most people with the disorder such as behavior, anxiety, agitation and social skills, reports The (New London, Conn.) Day.

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