RPI scientists develop blood test for autism

Evrard Martin
Mars 20, 2017

Advanced modeling and statistical analysis tools allowed the researchers to correctly classify 97.6 percent of the children with autism and 96.1 percent of the neurotypical children based exclusively on their blood biomarkers.

Research from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in NY identifies a new method for predicting whether a child is on the ASD spectrum based on substances that are detectable in the blood.

NewsHub reported that this one of its kind methods can classify if an individual is on the autism spectrum or being neurotypical.

Both of these are altered in children with autism, offering hope of developing a drug that targets them. The former is linked to DNA methylation and epigenetic factors, and the latter produces an antioxidant glutathione, which is crucial in reducing oxidative stress in the body.

It affects social interaction, communication, interests and behaviour.

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.

The test would be the first physiological test for autism, which is now diagnosed by a multidisciplinary team in each case that involves pediatricians, psychologists and others. Most children are not diagnosed with ASD until after age 4 years.

The algorithm uses big data to find two cellular pathways that indicate a person on the spectrum with roughly 97 percent accuracy - meaning earlier diagnosis and better outcomes, according to the paper, in the journal PLOS Computational Biology. Now about 3 million people of all ages live with autism in the U.S. "These differences allow us to categorize whether an individual is on the autism spectrum", Hahn said.

Researchers have looked at individual metabolites produced by the methionine cycle and the transulfuration pathways and found possible links with ASD, but the correlation has been inconclusive.

Researchers Juergen Hahn, Daniel Howsmon and colleagues have now announced their successful development of an accurate diagnostic method for children based on blood sampling.

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. His recently published work on ASD offers additional insights into the disorder.

The study involved blood samples collected from 83 children with autism and 76 neurotypical children ages 3 to 10 at Arkansas Children's Hospital.

Other reports by CampDesrEcrues

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