Thursday, January 5, 2012

New Finding Hints At Common Mechanism in Alzheimer's And Autism

The amyloid precursor protein is typically the focus of research related to Alzheimer's disease. However, recent scientific reports have identified elevated levels of the particular protein fragment, called, sAPP-α, in the blood of autistic children. The fragment is a well-known growth factor for nerves, and studies imply that it plays a role in T-cell immune responses as well.

From here.

Abnormal immune function has been noted in children with autism before, but no cause had previously been identified. The new study suggests that this protein that is already a biomarker for Alzheimer's disease may also be a biomarker for autism. Alzheimer's disease is the most well known form of geriatric dementia, although pre-clinical signs of it may start to manifest as early as young adulthood.

Autism is typically first diagnosed in preschool children and narrow definition autism is a characteristic subtype of developmental disability found in 1 in 110 children that disproportionately affects boys that is part of an "Autism spectrum" that is found in more children and at the milder end is sometimes described as a form of mere neurodiversity.

The research suggest that it may be possible in a few years to do a blood test for autism, allowing for earlier diagnosis, which could be helpful if earlier treatments have a better chance of being effective, and could also reduce the risk of misdiagnosis leading to inappropriate treatment.

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