Google Ventures explores the life sciences with Autism blood test

We all know Google as a technology company which has pushed barriers in topical news, internet searches and developing interactive networks. But a new subsidy of the Google company, Google Ventures is exploring into the Life sciences by funding research into Autism detection blood tests.

Diagnosis of Autism in younger children has increased an effectiveness of 72pc over recent years due to increase in scientific research and area specific funding. Early detection means that a wealth of support in the form of educational behavioural therapy can be accessed earlier, which dramatically improves the chances of an Autistic child integrating with peers and under educational circumstances.

Google Ventures have given $15.4M to a start up company, headed and founded by Life Sciences veteran Stan Lapudis. SynapDx, based in Lexington Massachusetts, are solely focussed on research driving down the age of diagnosis which is currently averaging at about 6 years old.

The new research will  take 660 children from a broad range of clinics and hospitals through out the USA. A number of universities, hospitals, and private firms are also working to develop a blood test for autism, and Lapidus expects a highly competitive market.

Lapudis has a long history of improving diagnostic tools. In the early eighties, he revolutionised a new design for the PAP or SMEAR test which more accurately identified the presence of Cervical cancer cancer cells in tests.

Despite earlier successes Lapudis, speaking to The Verge said:

“When you have a disease without a clear cause or cure, there will always be additional stress, The political tension around autism is a by-product of families who don’t feel they can get the services or answers they want.”

Dr. Gary Goldstein is the chair of the Autism Speaks scientific advisory committee and president and chief executive officer of the Kennedy Krieger Institute, one of the nation’s leading treatment centres for autism and other developmental disorders. He has been encouraged by what he’s seen of SynapDx, although he cautions it’s too early to tell how the clinical trials will turn out. “They are working with the best hospitals in the nation and they have raised significant capital, so clearly there is something there.”

But even if SynapDx clinical trials succeed, Goldstein questions how a blood test for autism would be effectively implemented.

“Of the 4 million children born every year, 1 percent will be born with autism. 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?”

The new test is thought to complement other more commonly used diagnostic tools, like paediatrician referral and behaviour monitoring, also the gold standard test for Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Autism Daily Newscast first reported this in our Research Review page in July.

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About Shân Ellis

Shân Ellis, is a qualified journalist with five years experience of writing features, blogging and working on a regional newspaper. Prior to working as a journalist, she was a ghost writer for top publishers and was closely involved in the editing and development of book series. Shân has a degree in the sciences, and 5 A levels. She lives in the UK and is the mother of an autistic child.