Researchers at Children's Hospital in Boston say they've developed a blood test that appears to identify autism spectrum disorders. They analyzed patterns of gene activity in blood samples from patients with and without autism spectrum disorders.
Scientists say they identified a genetic "signature" that consists of 245 genes uniquely switched on or off in people with ASDs.
They hope a test based on this signature will become a first-line tool to diagnose autism spectrum disorders and eventually to discriminate between classic autism, Asperger's syndrome and other developmental disorders.
The next big question is whether these differences in gene expression can be detected early enough to identify children at high risk before they show outward signs of ASDs. The earlier autism is detected, the earlier intervention can begin and the better the outcome.