Autism May Be Detectable In Blood

Autism Speaks states that "autism spectrum disorder" consists of varying conditions involving behavioural problems, issues with social skills, speech and nonverbal communication, and repetitive behavior.

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.

Clarity in the diagnosis of children affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a major challenge facing modern medical researchers. However, the majority of diagnosis methods rely on behavioral factors and are not always accurate. "By measuring 24 metabolites from a blood sample, this algorithm can tell whether or not an individual is on the Autism spectrum, and even to some degree where on the spectrum they land". With these differences, it permits the researchers to categorize if the child is on the Autism spectrum.

The multifaceted nature of ASD has continually bamboozled researchers, and while this new research in isolation offers a fascinating correlation between the disorder and certain metabolic pathways, it's likely it will still be some time before a clear physiological diagnostic tool will be available for this mysterious disorder.

"Instead of looking at individual metabolites, we investigated patterns of several metabolites and found significant differences between metabolites of children with ASD and those that are neurotypical", Hahn said in a school statement on the work.

Reports state that the test shows results with 98 percent accuracy in children between the age of 3 and 10.

These are produced by chemical reactions known as FOCM (folate-dependent one-carbon metabolism) and TS (transulfuration). They measured these substances since both of them were found altered in people with a higher risk of developing ASD.

The researchers also developed multivariate statistical models that accurately classified children with autism based on their neurological status.

"The models developed herein have much stronger predictability than any existing approaches from the scientific literature".

"The method presented in this work is the only one of its kind that can classify an individual as being on the autism spectrum or as being neurotypical", says study author Juergen Hahn. His method correctly identified 96.1 percent of all neurotypical participants and 97.6 percent of the ASD cohort.

However, Hahn also concedes that more research is needed to confirm the results. Further research might help them find methods to develop treatment for ASD symptoms.

  • Joanne Flowers