Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

University of Utah and Harvard researchers take major step toward first biological test for autism

02.12.2010
Researchers at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital and the University of Utah have developed the best biologically based test for autism to date. The test was able to detect the disorder in individuals with high-functioning autism with 94 percent accuracy. The study will be published online the week of November 29th in Autism Research.

The test, which uses MRI to measure deviations in brain circuitry, could someday replace the subjective test now used to identify those with the disorder. It could also lead to a better understanding of autism and to better management and treatments of affected individuals.

"This is not yet ready for prime time use in the clinic yet, but the findings are the most promising thus far," said lead author Nicholas Lange, ScD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and director of the Neurostatistics Laboratory at McLean. "Indeed, we have new ways to discover more about the biological basis of autism and how to improve the lives of individuals with the disorder," said senior author Janet Lainhart, MD, Principal Investigator of the research at the University of Utah.

The Harvard-McLean and University of Utah researchers used the test on two groups of subjects. One group consisted of individuals who had previously been diagnosed with high-functioning autism using the standard subjective scoring system. That system is based on assessing patients and questioning their parents about their functionality in a variety of areas including language, social functioning, and behavior. The second group studied was a control group consisting of normally developing individuals.

The subjects were put in an MRI scanner that was programmed to be sensitive to water diffusion along the axons of the brain to measure microscopic features of the brain's circuitry. The Lange-Lainhart test employs Diffusion Tensor Imaging.

"It provides pictures and measurements of the microscopic fiber structures of the brain that enable language, social and emotional functioning, which can reveal deviations that are not found in those without autism," Lange said.

By measuring six aspects of the brain's circuitry, the test was able to correctly distinguish those who had previously been diagnosed with autism with 94 percent accuracy.

A repeat study using two different sets of subjects showed the same high level of performance.

"The differences picked up on the study correlate with clinical symptoms that are part of the features of autism," Lainhart said. "There is less directional flow to and from brain regions where there should be more information exchange," said Lange.

The collaborative research group will further study and develop the test with more findings due out in a year or two. Future studies will look at patients with high-severity autism, younger children, and patients with brain disorders such as developmental language disorders, ADHD and OCD, who do not have autism.

If the test demonstrates further success, it could someday replace the current subjective system of diagnosing autism, which is not biologically based.

It could also someday lead to pinpointing how autism develops. "We can gain a better understanding of how this disorder arises and changes over the lifetime of an individual, and derive more effective treatments," said Lainhart.

Co-authors included: Molly DuBray, Alyson Froehlich, Brad Wright, P. Thomas Fletcher, all of the University of Utah, Erin Bigler of Brigham Young University, Nagesh Adluru, Alexander Alexander, and Jee Eun Lee of the University of Wisconsin, and Michael Froimowitz and Caitlin Ravichandran at Harvard and McLean.

University of Utah Health Sciences is internationally regarded for its research and clinical expertise in the health sciences. For more information, visit www.healthsciences.utah.edu.

McLean Hospital is the largest psychiatric clinical care, teaching and research facility of Harvard Medical School, an affiliate of Massachusetts General Hospital and a member of Partners HealthCare. For more information about McLean Hospital, visit www.mclean.harvard.edu.

Adriana Bobinchock | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mclean.harvard.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht What happens in the cell nucleus after fertilization
06.12.2016 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

nachricht Researchers uncover protein-based “cancer signature”
05.12.2016 | Universität Basel

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Simple processing technique could cut cost of organic PV and wearable electronics

06.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

3-D printed kidney phantoms aid nuclear medicine dosing calibration

06.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Robot on demand: Mobile machining of aircraft components with high precision

06.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>