Researchers have found evidence of autism in the blood of children affected by the developmental disorder.
The breakthrough allowed them to develop more accurate tests for identifying individuals with autism spectrum disorders.
Blood And Urine Test May Help Identify Children With Autism
Naila Rabbani, from the University of Warwick, and colleagues discovered that individuals with autism were more likely to have damaged blood proteins. They now claim to have developed a blood and urine test that can identify children with autism.
The researchers took blood and urine samples for analysis from 38 children with ASD and 31 children in the control group and found there were chemical differences between the two groups.
By combining the changes in multiple compounds using artificial intelligence algorithm techniques, the researchers developed a mathematical equation that can distinguish individuals with ASD from those without the condition. The researchers were thus able to come up with a diagnostic test that is better than current methods.
"With further testing we may reveal specific plasma and urinary profiles - or 'fingerprints' - of compounds with damaging modifications. This may help us improve the diagnosis of ASD and point the way to new causes of ASD," Rabbani said.
The discovery and the tests the researchers developed may lead to earlier diagnosis of ASD, which would make it possible to provide appropriate treatment for affected children earlier in their lives.
The most reliable of the tests the researchers developed examine protein in blood plasma. Children with ASD tend to have higher levels of the oxidation marker dityrosine or DT and the sugar-modified compounds advanced glycation end-products or AGEs.
"Algorithms to discriminate between ASD and healthy controls gave a strong diagnostic performance with features: plasma protein AGEs-CML, CMA-and 3-deoxyglucosone-derived hydroimidazolone, and oxidative damage marker, DT," the researchers wrote in their study, which was published in the journal Molecular Autism.
Autism refers to a group of complex developmental brain disorders characterized by communication difficulties, repetitive behaviors, as well as social and behavioral challenges.
Figures from the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring or ADDM Network of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that about one in 68 children has been identified to have ASD.
About one-third of ASD cases is believed to have genetic causes while the rest could be due to a combination of mutations, rare genetic variants, and environmental factors. The researchers believe that the new tests may reveal still unknown causes of ASD.