New biomarkers could mean a blood test for autism

The hunt for autism spectrum disorder biomarkers continues this week with results from Swedish and Iranian researchers showing three potential markers in the blood of children clinically diagnosed with this neurological developmental disorder. Blood-based diagnostics for autism could help with early diagnosis, even before the majority of symptoms have emerged, and therefore aid early intervention.

The researchers screened blood samples from 32 children with autism spectrum disorder and 31 healthy children and found two peptides that were over-expressed and one that was under-expressed in children with autism, compared with the healthy children. According to the researchers, this "set of biomarkers allows for a reliable blood-based diagnostic tool that may be used in diagnosis and potentially, in prognosis of autism spectrum disorder."

The researchers did state that some of the children were on medication, as it would have been unethical to stop the treatment, so this could have had an effect on the results. The researchers also did not include a control group with other developmental or language disorders, and it was a small group of children, but it does show both the potential of these biomarkers and the potential of the approach to find new biomarkers.

- see the paper
- check out the blog post from Questioning Answers