NEW insights into the causes of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and the potential ability to detect the condition much earlier in children have been made possible by the development of tests by researchers from the University of Warwick, Coventry, UK, in collaboration with other institutions. The research displayed that certain chemical changes are associated with ASD, potentially leading to new treatments as well as easier diagnosis in the future.
In the study, which included 38 children aged between 5 and 12 years diagnosed with ASD (29 boys and 9 girls) and a control group of 31 children (23 boys and 8 girls), the team found chemical differences between the two groups. Damage to proteins in blood plasma by oxidation and glycation was shown to be linked to ASD; in ASD children, there were higher levels of the oxidation marker dityrosine and advanced glycation end products. The tests also confirmed that mutations of amino acid transporters are a genetic variant associated with ASD. Furthermore, the researchers believe the use of these tests could uncover currently unknown causes of the condition.
Earlier Diagnosis and Intervention
“Our discovery could lead to earlier diagnosis and intervention,” commented lead author Dr Naila Rabbani, University of Warwick. “We hope the tests will also reveal new causative factors. 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.”
The diagnostic test combined the differences in multiple compounds between the ASD and control groups by using artificial intelligence algorithms techniques, developing an algorithm to distinguish them. This test is more effective than any other currently available method. The next stage of research is to confirm the efficacy of the method in more groups of children and also test if it’s able to assess whether treatments are working.
James Coker, Reporter
For the source and further information about the study, click here.