New tests show promise for spotting autism sooner

Lynette PayneFeb 20, 2018

The study was done by researchers at the University of Warwick, who built on previous research that find a link between damaged protein found in blood plasma and the occurrence of autism.

Currently, there is no test to identify ASD, which the NHS describes as "a range of similar conditions, including Asperger syndrome, that affect a person's social interaction, communication, interests and behaviour". Researchers have already developed - with the help of artificial intelligence algorithms - the first blood and urine tests, which are better than any other available method today. "We hope the tests will also reveal new causative factors", said Dr Naila Rabbani, who led the study. With further testing we may reveal specific plasma and urinary profiles or "fingerprints" of compounds with damaging modifications. "This may help us improve the diagnosis of ASD and point the way to new causes of ASD", Rabbani said in a statement.

Around one in every 100 people in the United Kingdom has autism.

Chemical differences were found between the 2 groups, the scientists report in the journal Molecular Autism. The blood samples of the children with autism presented a much higher level of damaged proteins.

However, scientists are real positive their new blood test to detect autism will eventually be used by doctors worldwide. The outcome was a diagnostic test better than any method now available.

The Warwick researchers worked with the University of Bologna in Italy to recruit 38 children with autism spectrum disorder, aged five to 12, along with 31 healthy children of the same age.

Genetic causes are thought to be responsible for around a third of autism spectrum disorder cases, while the rest are believed to be caused by a combination of environmental factors and genetic mutations and variants.

"I would really like to go forward with younger children, maybe two years, or even one year old", she said. It isn't easy to spot, and is usually diagnosed after the age of two. This attempt is weakened by a small sample size, possible overfitting of data and a lack of comparison groups.

The next steps are to repeat the study with further groups of children to confirm the good diagnostic performance and to assess if the test can identify ASD at very early stages assess if treatments are working.

"This (study) is debilitated by a little example measure, conceivable overfitting of information and an absence of examination gatherings", said James Cusack, executive of science at Austistica, a United Kingdom inquire about philanthropy that means to comprehend the reasons for autism and enhance diagnosis.

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