A new study uses machine learning methods to search for ASD biomarkers.
There are currently no effective tests for autism spectrum disorder based on biological markers.
Out of hundreds of proteins, they identified nine that may be useful, though further research is needed.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects all ethnic and socioeconomic groups. Boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed with ASD than girls. Currently, there are no medical tests for autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and the exact cause is not known. A new peer-reviewed study published on Wednesday in PLOS ONE uses machine learning to search for potential blood biomarkers for autism spectrum disorder in boys.
The scientists performed proteomic analysis of the serum to analyze 1,125 proteins using the SomaLogic SOMAScan platform. Using a combination of three different algorithms (random forest, t-test and correlation-based), the team identified proteins that differed significantly in boys with autism compared to those without and were highly correlated with autism spectrum disorder severity.
In all, the team identified nine proteins selected for the biomarker panel, and “several of these proteins have been mechanistically (suPAR, MAPK14, and EPHB2) and genetically (EPHB2, suPAR, and ROR1) linked to ASD.” Five core proteins were present in all three algorithmic analyses, and the remaining four proteins provided additive power.
“This novel set of proteins has the potential to be an efficacious blood-based biomarker for the early identification of ASD in boys, particularly since behavioral and developmental assessments are not easily administered in very young children,” the researchers reported. “While the use of machine learning for ASD diagnosis is still in its infancy, identifying key proteomic biomarkers may also lead to targeted intervention strategies as we further elucidate the functional processes associated with ASD and the mechanistic interplay between brain structure and behavior.”
Copyright © 2021 Cami Rosso All rights reserved.
A version of this article first appeared on Psychology Today.