A simple urine test to determine if a child has autism may be on its way, following a joint research project by Imperial College London and the University of South Australia. The study, published in the Journal of Proteome Research, suggests that people with autism also suffer from gastrointestinal disorders which give the bacteria in their guts an identifiable “fingerprint” that could be used as the basis of a non-invasive test.
Such a test could help diagnose autism earlier in a child’s life which could, in turn, enable children with autism to receive therapy and assistance earlier in their development than is currently possible.
However, Professor Jeremy Nicholson of Imperial College, the corresponding author of the study, was quick to point out that any such test may be a long time coming. “We hope our findings might be the first step towards creating a simple urine test to diagnose autism at a really young age, although this may be a long way off – such a test could take years to develop.”
Professor Nicholson’s team are now keen to investigate whether metabolic differences in people with autism are related to the causes of the condition or are a consequence of its progression.