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Test for autism in children

Researchers have developed two tests that they claim could potentially be used to detect autism in children.

Both tests – one blood and one urine – are based on a previously discovered link between damage to proteins in blood plasma and autism. 

The team from the University of Warwick believes the tests to be the first of their kind, and hope that they could help improve early detection of autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

The team was led by Dr Naila Rabbani, Reader of Experimental Systems Biology at the University of Warwick, who said: “Our discovery could lead to earlier diagnosis and intervention.

“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 next steps are to repeat the study with further groups of children to confirm the good diagnostic performance and to assess if the test can identify ASD at very early stages, indicate how the ASD is likely to develop further to more severe disease and assess if treatments are working.

The work has been published in the journal Molecular Autism.

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