Blood test to detect autism developed

Breakthrough? The new method designed by New York's Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is the first to analyze metabolic biomarkers that come before behavioral changes

Juergen Hahn, lead researcher from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York State, says the test has had a 96% success rate.

According to RPI News, the researchers were investigating patterns of various metabolites and found out that there are significant differences between the metabolites of children with ASD and to those who are neurotypical. They analyzed blood samples from 83 children with autism and 76 children who were not affected by the disease. People with ASD "may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people". The fundamental causes of ASD still remain a mystery, but it is understood that early diagnosis can lead to more effective treatment and management as a child develops.

Scientists in the USA have developed a blood test that has the potential to accurately detect autism in babies.

Hahn's research, titled "Classification and Adaptive Behavior Prediction of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder based upon Multivariate Data Analysis of Markers of Oxidative Stress and DNA Methylation", appears today in PLOS Computational Biology, an open access journal published by the Public Library of Science. Last month a team from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill reported that brain measurements allowed them to predict autism by age 2 with 90 percent accuracy. Research shows that early intervention can improve development, but diagnosis now depends on clinical observation of behavior, an obstacle to early diagnosis and treatment.

Recent analysis of Medicare data revealed the average age of diagnosis in Australia is just before a child's sixth birthday, even though ASD can be reliably detected at two years of age. "Our contribution is using big-data techniques that are able to look at a suite of metabolites that have been correlated with ASD and make (statistically) a much-stronger case".

The number of ASD diagnoses has drastically increased over the past few decades, and in the USA, the estimates show a 30 percent increase in the number of children with ASD compared with previous years. "This is the first physiological diagnostic and it's highly accurate and specific".

The multifaceted nature of ASD has continually bamboozled researchers, and while this new research in isolation offers a fascinating correlation between the disorder and certain metabolic pathways, it's likely it will still be some time before a clear physiological diagnostic tool will be available for this mysterious disorder. For Hahn, the next step is to replicate the results with a new cohort working with his clinical collaborators.



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