Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have provided evidence last year that their method of diagnosing autism via a simple blood test had great potential. Now, their follow-up study that applied the test to children verifies the success of their original findings. This brings everyone a step closer to accurately detecting which infants have a high possibility of developing the attributes identified with the autism spectrum.
An algorithm that includes the presence and concentration of dozens of chemicals that are in the blood and have been linked with autism before is the key to the test. The algorithm was successful in testing less than 150 adults.
What could be better is if it could be applied to a younger sample group. And according to the senior author, that’s the approach that they want in clinical trials and eventually becoming commercially available.
There are a number of genes involved in autism but how they interact with environmental elements that result to specific attributes is what plenty of ongoing research is concentrating on now. The ripple effects appear to leave a fingerprint in the form of metabolites in the blood.
In the previous research, the team has found out that by mapping the levels of 24 chemicals connected to two biochemical pathways linked with autism, they can recognize which adults had a diagnosis of ASD with extremely high accuracy that’s near to perfection.
To continue to a more predictive test, the researchers worked with groups of children from current studies that included data on the all-important metabolites. The team found 154 children aged from 2-17 years and the results were 88% accurate in predicting children who have autism.
The current accuracy rate may be less than the 97.6% rate from their initial study but it’s still very impressive. They hope to do future tests that will improve the algorithm and the accuracy for children younger than the present age range.
Early diagnosis is very important as it helps people with ASD to develop skills that could help them meet the challenges brought about by their unique brains like difficulties in socializing or processing sensations. Having such a test available is becoming more important because rates of autism are on the rise.
Characteristics of ASD are not always easy to notice and take several years to become obvious. Possible methods for assistance are therefore delayed until the child is around four years old. And if a cheap and minimally invasive blood test is available for detecting ASD that would be a big step in improving the diagnosis.