Thursday, 7 November 2013

A Blood Test Can Diagnose Autism?

A special blood marker has been identified by researchers which can help in understanding the potential gut linked factors leading to Autism. The findings came from a clinical study by researchers from Western University and the University of Arkansas, and were published in the Journal Translational Psychiatry.

Previously it was believed that Autism is caused by factors that are related to brain only. Many autistic people have digestive and metabolic issues, but how they may relate to Autism and the increase of occurrence were unclear till now. The current study proves that these metabolic irregularities may come about from compounds made by specific bacteria, generally found in the abdomen of autistic people.

Out of 213 children analyzed, 17 percent of those with Autism showed an unusual pattern of blood markers aroused from issues of fat metabolism and digestion known as acyl-carnitines. If this finding has been further validated by the medical community, it could create blood tests for early screening of Autism!

The chances a child will receive a diagnosis of Autism has increased 72 percent over the last five years, a dramatic rise that has stumped many health care experts. While there is no cure for autism, early detection and treatment in the form of behavioral therapy can dramatically improve the long-term outcome for patients. Unfortunately, many of the telltale symptoms of autism do not manifest in children until they are several years old.

Another attempt to solve this problem comes from SynapDx, a startup founded by life science veteran Stan Lapidus and backed by Google Ventures. SynapDx is developing a blood test it hopes will be able to detect autism using genetic markers, allowing for a much earlier and more accurate diagnosis. Currently the average age of diagnosis for autism is six years old. "We hope to drive that number way down," says Lapidus.

SynapDx is in the process of running a clinical trial on 660 patients across 20 different hospitals and clinics around the nation. If successful, the trial, which is expected to be finished next year, will provide the evidence needed for regulatory approval. A number of universities, hospitals, and private firms are also working to develop a blood test for autism, and Lapidus expects a highly competitive market.

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