European scientists claim to have developed a blood and urine test that can detect autism in children.
Autism (ASM) is a developmental disorder characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication. The condition is caused by a variety of risk factors, such as our genes and environment. Children can show visible signs of autism at the age of 2, however, there has been no medical test to accurately pinpoint the condition.
According to the research paper detailing the new test, autism may be detected by looking for damaged proteins in blood plasma. The scientists reported higher levels of the oxidation marker dityrosine (DT) and a number of sugar-modified compounds called advanced glycation end-products (AGEs).
A third of autism cases are thought to be caused by genetic factors while the rest are believed to be caused by a combination of environmental factors, mutations, and rare genetic variants. Researchers of the new study believe that their new tests could shed light on new causes of ASM.
Researchers from the University of Warwick, in Britain, and the University of Bologna in Italy, recruited 38 children between the ages of 5 and 12 who had been diagnosed with autism. In addition to these children, another 31 children between the same ages were recruited to act as a control group. The researchers analyzed blood and urine from both groups.
Those at Warwick found a number of chemical differences between the two groups. They first created four different predictive algorithms that tried to distinguish between children who had ASD and those who didn’t. The most successful algorithm was the one that looked for higher levels of the dityrosine molecule. This algorithm was able to predict if a child had autism with 90 percent accuracy, and predicted if a child didn’t have the condition with 87 percent accuracy.
“Our test is expected to improve the accuracy of ASD prognosis from 60-70 percent… to approximately 90 percent accuracy,” said Naila Rabbani, lead author of the study and a biologist at the University of Warwick.
The study was published in the journal, Molecular Autism.
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