Blood test for autism uses ‘big data’ to detect patterns of changes linked to ASD
Mary Martialay| Medical Xpress | March 21, 2017

An algorithm based on levels of metabolites found in a blood sample can accurately predict whether a child is on the Autism spectrum of disorder (ASD), based upon a recent study. The algorithm, developed by researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, is the first physiological test for autism and opens the door to earlier diagnosis and potential future development of therapeutics.

Big data techniques applied to biomedical data found different patterns in metabolites relevant to two connected cellular pathways (a series of interactions between molecules that control cell function) that have been hypothesized to be linked to ASD: the methionine cycle and the transulfuration pathway. The methionine cycle is linked to several cellular functions, including DNA methylation and epigenetics…

“A lot of studies have looked at one biomarker, one metabolite, one gene, and have found some differences, but most of the time those differences weren’t statistically significant or the results could not be reliably replicated,” [Juergen Hahn, lead author and head of the Rensselaer department of Biomedical Engineering] said. “Our contribution is using big data techniques that are able to look at a suite of metabolites that have been correlated with ASD and make statistically a much stronger case.”

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