Both UK and Italian scientists are making progress in developing blood and urine tests for earlier autism diagnosis
The tests aim to look for damage in certain proteins that are higher in children with autism disorder. The team from the University of Warwick and the University of Bologna tested around 40 children suffering from autism, aged 5 to 12.
They sought differences in samples of both blood and urine and compared the results to the same samples, but from 31 children who did not suffer from autism. They discovered that those with autism had greater protein damage, which resulted in higher levels of an oxidation marker which is known as ditryosine, as well sugar-modified compounds named advanced glycation end-products.
Unfortunately, experts caution us not to get our hopes up, as the tests are far from becoming clinically available as more research needs to be done.
“We have found that the power of measuring damaged proteins to the brain may be a cause for a development of autism,” said Paul Thornalley, professor at the University of Warwick
Even so, previous studies have made a connection to autism from proteins that were not damaged, unlike this study that looks at damaged proteins in the brain, the professor added.
“This (study) is weakened by a small sample size, possible overfitting of data and a lack of comparison groups,” said James Cusack, director of science at Austistica, a UK research charity that aims to understand the causes of autism and improve diagnosis. “This study does not tell us how effectively this measure can differentiate between autism and other neurodevelopmental or mental health conditions such as ADHD and anxiety.”