Sacramento, Calif. — Scientists from the Pediatric Bioscience developed a test to detect the presence of what they call ‘autoantibodies‘ in women which they claim are responsible for at least some of the cases of autism in children.
‘Autoantibodies’ are a type of maternal antibodies which, scientists observed, are responsible for attacking some brain proteins in fetuses, rendering them vulnerable to developmental disorders such as autism.
One of the authors of the study, Dr. Judy Van de Water, a consultant for Pediatric Bioscience, holds the patent on these brain proteins. Researchers that linked ‘autoantibodies’ to at least a third of the cases of autism involved in their study refer to this type of autism as Maternal Antibody-Related Autism or ‘MAR Autism’. Pediatric Bioscience explains in their website:
“Recent evidence suggests that at least some cases of autism are associated with autoimmune disorders, and that autoimmune disorders are more common in family members of children with autism compared to typically developing controls.”
Further research at the University of California, Davis suggests that these ‘autoantibodies’, which attack certain fetal brain proteins, are indeed likely to interfere with the development of the fetal nervous system, which could result in autism during the later stages of the child’s development.
With this in mind, Pediatric Bioscience scientists developed the ‘MAR Test‘ which is aimed at detecting the presence of these ‘autoantibodies’ in women. The scientists hope to use the test as a tool to foretell whether or not a mother is likely to have a child with autism. According to Pediatric Bioscience the MAR Test is a simple and non-invasive blood test that is able to identify women who have an increased risk of having a child with autism.
In an interview with Medscape, Dr. Van de Water further explained how the ‘MAR Test‘ could benefit would-be mothers. She told that a negative result would not necessarily mean that the mother would have a typically developing child, but that a positive result would mean that the risk of having a child with ASD would be greater than 99 per cent.
Although the MAR Test received its fair share of criticisms from the scientific community as early as the onset of its development, there are also some who believe that the test can be helpful in both the diagnosis and prevention of autism. According to U-T San Diego, a positive test could “expedite referral for assessment.”
The MAR Test is expected to cost around $1,000, and is expected to be available later this year.
Contributed by Althea Estrella Violeta