Can autism be detected in the blood?

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

The SynapDx company is sure they can diagnose autism with a simple blood test.

In case you didn’t know, autism is a brain disorder which makes it hard for individuals to communicate. There is no cure, but if doctors discover the condition early enough, they can provide valuable treatment to help a person for the rest of their lives.

There’s just one teensy problem: symptoms don’t show up until a child is several years old! Well, the company SynapDx – supported by Google – plans to change that with a simple blood test.

By reading genetic information in the blood, doctors won’t have to rely mainly on symptoms to detect autism. The company’s positive they’ll change the average diagnosis age from 6 years old to much earlier on in life, which is crucial for effective treatment.

SynapDx is currently running a trial on 660 patients for evidence to show the world it works. However, if the test is approved, there are still a ton of questions that need to be answered before hospitals can use the product. “Of the 4 million children born every year, 1 percent will be born with autism,” says Dr. Gary Goldstein, chair of the Autism Speaks scientific advisory committee. “So does that mean we test every single child who is born? Does that make sense if each test costs a few thousand dollars? Even a few hundred? How does this really scale?”

Those are really tough to answer, yet SynapDx founder Stan Lapidus was definitely prepared with responses. “We do 10-20 million reads of your genetic material and we have a team of PhDs working on how to crunch those numbers.” says Lapidis. “One way to think about Google is as a company that built a great business around mathematics. We hope to do the same thing for diagnosing disease.” Well said, sir!

Featured image courtesy of Calle Eklund/V-wolf on Wikimedia.