New research by the laboratory services company SynapDx aims to develop a blood test that accurately distinguishes between children who have autism spectrum disorders and those who have other developmental disorders. Based on research findings in 2012 that suggest blood as an indicator of gene expression associated with autism. The 2012 study analyzed the differences in expression of 55 genes from blood samples of 170 children with autism and 115 without. The average age of study participants was 8, while the average age of autism diagnoses is 4.5 years. While the research findings proved the blood test accurate in identifying autism among two-thirds of the sample, these findings are not strong enough to be reliable indicators and they do not take into account early detection because of the population age.
SynapDx acquired this blood test method in hopes of focusing study goals on distinguishing between autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disorders to increase early detection and subsequently early interventions. The study design has potential for greater reliability, with a larger population and sample location of 660 participants from 20 facilities throughout the United States and greater consideration regarding age of participants. If the test proves accurate in identifying autism spectrum disorder in particular among other developmental delays, earlier interventions can be enacted to aid in communication and motor skill ability before children fall too far behind neurotypical children. However, the sheer reliability of a test does not necessitate that doctors will utilize the resource. A similar blood test developed for schizophrenia in 2012 showed 83% accuracy for indication of schizophrenia, but physicians did not find the test advantageous for diagnosing the psychiatric disease and the test fell from the market. The practicality of the blood test to distinguish ASD from other developmental disorders will be instrumental for physicians if it proves reliable for early detection, or detection prior to behavioral manifestation.
SynapDx’s new study began last week. Stay tuned for further developments on the early detection front and share your opinions below. For study details, see SynapDx’s official description.
Rettner, Rachael. “Could a Blood Test Detect Autism? Study Aims to Answer.”MyHealthNewsDaily.com. N.p., 26 Apr. 2013. Web. 29 Apr. 2013. <http://www.myhealthnewsdaily.com/3769-autism-blood-test.html>.