Can Blood Test Help in Autism Diagnosis

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Many scientists, around the world, studying Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are dedicated to finding an accurate and early detection test for autism. Recently, researchers at NEBA Health claimed to have developed a brainwave biomarker test to aid doctors in differentiating ADHD-affected children from others suffering from a disorder exhibiting similar symptoms.

Now, researchers at University of California-San Diego School of Medicine are talking about a potential blood test for autism. The scientists believe that the blood test, which is in its nascent stage, would identify gene-expression patterns unique to autistic children before any signs of autism becomes prominent.

could blood test detect autism in children
Could blood test help detect autism in children?

The test would be administered for children aged between 1 to 4 years. The current tests for autism are unsuitable for toddlers and, therefore, are conducted on children aged at least 4 years. This is a typical shortcoming that Eric Courchesne, study’s lead author, wants to eliminate. An early detection would mean an earlier intervention and treatment of autism for the children, suggested Courchesne.

Courchesne said they generally look for an ideal biomarker in the affected tissues. However, in case of autism, the affected tissue was the brain, which was obviously inaccessible. They found the alternative in peripheral blood of infants with autism.

The study, published online in JAMA Psychiatry (see below), is based on samples collected from 215 infant boys (131 of them had autism). These infants were divided into two groups depending upon the effects of genetic patterns had on their immune function and protein production. The researchers then administered the novel blood test on one group, and a related but slightly old test on another group.

The result:

The statistics indicated the first test to be significantly accurate than the older one. The novel blood test had an accuracy of 83 percent as opposed to the other test with 75 percent accuracy. The current autism tests also have an average accuracy of about 75 percent. According to the researchers, the statistics show the blood test to be better than other behavioral and genetic screens for infants with the disorder.

The study is an important one as it identifies biological pathways affected in autism”, said Paul Wang of Autism Speaks. “The findings reinforce the theory that inflammatory and immune pathways are involved in autism’s development, alongside disturbances in protein synthesis,” continued Dr. Wang.

The scientific community believes that this might be a significant milestone in Autism diagnosis after another similar study was conducted by researchers at Clarkson University on non-invasive saliva testing for Autism.

The researchers are now focusing on finding a similar blood test biomarker that can help detect autism in infant girls. As a matter of fact, they have already initiated a new study that involves a gene-expression test on a much larger group.

Click here for more information on JAMA Psychiatric.

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