Scientists Say New Tests Can Detect Autism In Children

Blood test

Blood test

In a small trial involving children with and without autism, they found the disorder was linked to higher levels of protein damage. For this reason, it is usually referred to as autism spectrum disorder (ASD). It affects information processing in the brain by altering how nerve cells and their synapses connect and organize, but the mechanism through which this happens is still unclear.

Autism is a mental condition that affects behaviour, particularly social interaction but it is hard to diagnosed before the age of two.

The researchers said the tests could lead ultimately to the earlier detection of the condition, which can be hard to diagnose. Suspicious behavior of children can often be explained by natural causes, and symptoms can sometimes be quite subtle.

Researchers, including those from the University of Bologna in Italy, recruited 38 children who were diagnosed with ASD (29 boys and nine girls) and a control group of 31 healthy children (23 boys and eight girls) between the ages of five and 12. Blood and urine samples were taken from the children for analysis. With the help of an artificial intelligence (AI)-developed algorithm, the team figured out how the two groups were chemically different. The AI developed a mathematical equation that distinguishes between ASD and healthy controls.

A mathematical equation was then developed to distinguish between the two groups, resulting in a diagnostic test considered to be better than other now available. She was also kind enough to detail exactly how the test works.

The researchers in their study, tested children with and without the condition, leading to finding higher levels of protein damage in those with the disorder. Similar damage may be occurring in the brain in autism.

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The research also confirmed the previously held belief that mutations of amino acid transporters are a genetic variant associated with ASD.

"We hope the tests will also reveal new causative factors", Rabani added in a statement. "With further testing we may reveal specific plasma and urinary profiles or "fingerprints" of compounds with damaging modifications", said Rabbani.

They say the tests have the potential to diagnose ASD in the early stages of life. Although symptoms can sometimes be spotted at a very young age, diagnosis can be tricky and normally only happens following a number of assessments by doctors and language and speech therapists.

"The test could be widely implemented and provided by well-equipped clinical centers".

However, some experts have warned that we shouldn't expect to see the Warwick team's blood test being used in the real world any time soon."There have been several attempts at developing biomarkers for autism, none of which have been particularly successful", said Autistica's Director of Science, Dr James Cusack.

Novel blood test detects autism in children, which has been just designed a team of scientists from the University of Warwick. As with many other conditions, genetics, environment, and other factors all play a role.

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