Autism Research at the University of Buffalo Takes Steps Towards Early Detection

Photo by Douglas Levere

A news release from the University of Buffalo has shown that an ongoing research study comparing compounds in the urine of children with autism to those in children without the disorder could potentially contribute towards a biological early detection test.

A research team led by Troy Wood, a chemist at the university, has determined that compounds such as glutathione and stercobilin appeared in the autistic children’s urine at abnormally low levels.  The depleted levels of both indicate oxidative stress, which, according to Wood, some researchers have linked to autism in previous studies.  However, more than just these two compounds need to be identified in order to create a biological test that will be reliable.

The current study only focuses on information from ten children, but Wood plans to begin a much larger study in order to validate the researchers’ preliminary findings.  He intends to incorporate 75 to 100 urine samples from both the autistic group and the control group.

Charmion Cruickshank, a UB PhD graduate, and Zachary Fine, a former UB student, have worked with Wood with the hope that their work would contribute towards real benefits for those diagnosed with autism.  This research could lead to a better understanding of the disorder’s causes as well.

With more understanding of the differences in the urine samples, researchers might be able to create a biological test that can be used from an early age.  This would be a major step forward in autism research, because the earlier a diagnosis is made, the earlier treatments could start, making an immense difference in the lives of the many children diagnosed.  Early intervention is crucial in overall development, and this study might aid in therapies to develop higher-functioning individuals with autism.

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