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Ground-breaking research leads to better autism test

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A world first test, developed through an international cooperative effort, could lead to earlier diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders.

British scientists have developed a blood and urine test that can detect autism in children, and they say it is the first of its kind.

The University of Warwick researchers said their test will allow earlier diagnoses and therefore earlier and more effective treatments.

They worked in collaboration with the University of Bologna in Italy, as well as with the University of Birmingham in the UK.

Children of varying age groups were tested from these locations.

Because there are so many symptoms of autism spectrum disorders (ASD), diagnosis can be difficult in the early stages of its development.

But the scientists discovered a link between ASD and damage to proteins in blood plasma. By examining protein in blood plasma, they found children with ASD had higher levels dityrosine – and oxidisation marker – and advanced glycation end-products – sugar modified compounds.

“Our discovery could lead to earlier diagnosis and interventions,” said lead researcher Naila Rabbani from the 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 it.”

Findings of the research have been published in the journal Molecular Autism.

The next step of the program is to repeat the study with further groups of children.