A new study from NeuroPointDX of Madison and University of California researchers shows biochemical markers could allow for earlier identification of autism spectrum disorder.

Lead author David Amaral says this discovery could also lead to avenues for therapeutic intervention.

NeuroPointDX is a division of Stemina Biomarker Discovery, also based in Madison, and Amaral is from the MIND Institute at UC Davis. Researchers from the company and university collaborated on a large-scale study to follow up on previous research that had identified new targets for analysis.

Autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, is characterized by troubles with communication and social interaction. But it comes from a wide array of neurodevelopmental disorders stemming from diverse factors. Differences in both genetics and environment have been linked to the disorder.

Currently, the only way to diagnose ASD is through behavioral observation. And though children can be diagnosed as young as 24 months, the average age of diagnosis is over 4 years.

This new research could lead to identification methods which would catch ASD at a younger age. That’s important, because earlier identification means earlier intervention, and ultimately better outcomes for the affected kids.

Researchers conducted a study at eight different sites with 1,100 children in total between ages 2 and 4, with clinical ASD, developmental delay, or typical development.

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