A new blood test for autism spectrum disorder | Daily News

A new blood test for autism spectrum disorder

A new blood test for autism can diagnose children that previously were missed by even the best developed screens for the set of disorders.

There are already a handful of tests for the disorder, which affects one in 45 American children, but there are also many unknowns to autism that make it hard for doctors to diagnose it with absolute certainty.

Behavior and an older diagnostic test can catch more than 90 percent of cases of autism, but aren't widely used, and the new test detects about 17 percent of children who belong to a subset of the spectrum that might have been missed previously.

Researchers at the University of California, Davis, developed their new screening method through the largest autism spectrum disorder study to-date.

Until recently, there has not been a biological test for children on the spectrum.

Children have previously been diagnosed based on their altered behaviors, which may not become evident until children are two to four years old.

And families often have to wait to see a specialist for a more in-depth assessment, which should be started within three months of the referral but can take longer.

But in February, the a scientists unveiled a blood test that had blown even them away with its accuracy.

And since, a slew of similar screening methods have come out.

Now, the University of California, Davis, scientists have identified a group of blood metabolites that could help detect some children with ASD.

The new biomarker panel could accelerate autism diagnoses as about 17 percent of kids with autism we re identified with the metabolic blood test. This could speed up children having intensive behavioral therapy at an earlier age.

Dr David Amaral, of the University of California Davis MIND Institute, said: 'With this panel of alterations in amino acid metabolism, we can detect about 17 percent of kids with ASD.

'This is the first of hopefully many panels that will identify other subsets of kids with autism.'

The findings were based on the largest metabolomic ASD study ever attempted - the Children's Autism Metabolome Project (CAMP).

CAMP researchers believed the answer lies in the metabolome - the molecules that remain after larger molecules have been broken down (metabolized).

Metabolomics has the advantage of monitoring both genetic and environmental contributions to the development of autism.

So far, some 65 genes related to autism have been identified, and there may be more left to discover - which is not to mention the environmental factors at play.

'Autism is not a single entity, it's a diverse spectrum,' says Dr Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, and father to a daughter on that spectrum.

'It is difficult to imagine how there could be a single blood tes tfor it,' he says.

So the new test may fit into a larger constellation of such screens for autism.

Dr Amaral, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences explained: 'By the time you're getting to metabolomics, you're looking at how the body is working, not just the genes it has.'

'It is unlikely that a single marker will detect all autism.'

But the new test might be able to catch cases of autism that others would miss.

'This paper demonstrates that alterations in metabolic profiles can detect sizable subsets of individuals with autism,' said Dr Amaral.

'The hope is that we will be able to generate a panel of biomarkers that will detect a large proportion of people at risk.

'Moreover, this approach highlights metabolic pathways that may be targets of intervention.'



Add new comment