Scientists May Develop Prenatal Screening Test for ASD

There is a theory that neuroinflammation, inflammation of the nervous tissue, can be an underlying cause in the development of Autism. If so, scientists have reason to believe it can be treated early if babies can be diagnosed at an early stage through a blood test.

The theory that neuroinflammation can contribute to Autism development is becoming more widespread. MRI scans of Autistic patients have revealed abnormalities in white matter, which is the tissue that connects important brain areas. If neuroinflammation is involved in Autism, anti-inflammatory drug treatments can be developed for treatment.

Over the past decade, the entire field of neurological disorders has undergone a revolution with the growing realization that they are not only conditions of the brain, but of the entire body, raising the possibility of detecting them in the blood.

As a result, medical researchers are planning to compare blood samples between Autism patients and neurotypical individuals. They plan to study the protein fingerprint – a set of protein levels that is significantly different in those with Autism. Research has shown success in studying Asperger’s syndrome, with an accuracy rate of 80%, resulting in hope to develop a test that can soon be replicated for Autism.

The most probable future scenario is that clinical assessment would be combined with a range of biomedical examinations including blood tests and brain scans. If a blood test for Autism were to become available, it would be a major step towards prenatal screening. The existence of prenatal screening could result in development of potential treatments, and prepare for the best care that the child will need.

While the research shows promise, it will take time before it can become clinically available. Professor Simon Baron-Cohen of the Autism Research Center of Cambridge, who is a member of ICare4Autism’s Advisory Committee, states, “I think it could possibly happen within five years, but its premature to be thinking these tests are just around the corner.”

The ICare4Autism International Conference will be discussing significant Autism research and scientific advances on July 1st in NYC. Speakers include Dr. Martha Herbert, Assistant Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School, and Pediatric Neurologist at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Dr. Herbert will be discussing the evaluation methods of neurodevelopmental disorders, and the new methods of research that are being done in the Autism field. To hear Dr. Herbert speak, please select tickets here.

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