Skip to main content

Scientists use big data to develop a ‘promising’ blood test for autism disorder

autism blood test in labratory centrifuge tubes
Image used with permission by copyright holder
Scientists at New York’s Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have developed an algorithm that can accurately predict whether a child has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), based on a blood sample.

The study, published in the open journal PLOS One, represents the world’s first physiological test for autism, and potentially takes researchers one step closer to earlier autism diagnosis and new therapy developments.

For the work, investigators measured 24 different metabolites in a blood sample, and then used big data techniques to find patterns tied to two connected pathways that have been theorized as being linked to ASD. By using big data, it was possible to establish patterns that may not otherwise have been discovered.

“Instead of looking at the metabolites one at a time, we were able to look at them altogether,” Professor Juergen Hahn, lead author and head of the Rensselaer Department of Biomedical Engineering, told Digital Trends. “By doing that, we were able to find that there is a difference between children who are on the a

When testing the algorithm, it was found to have an accuracy of more than 96 percent in correctly identifying neurotypical and ASD participants. Even with this being the case, Hahn stressed that more work has to be carried out before this can be considered as a clinical tool.

“We’ve shown that this worked extremely well on this one data from this one particular clinical study,” he said. “What we need to do next is to repeat it, as you’d have to do with any medical findings in order to establish credibility. It’s very promising, but that’s all it is for now.”

ASD affects around 1.5 percent of people, and is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how individuals communicate with other people and experience the world around them.

Luke Dormehl
I'm a UK-based tech writer covering Cool Tech at Digital Trends. I've also written for Fast Company, Wired, the Guardian…
Meet the game-changing pitching robot that can perfectly mimic any human throw
baseball hitter swings and misses

Who’s your favorite baseball pitcher? Shane McClanahan? Sandy Alcantara? Justin Verlander? Whoever you said, two of the top sports-tech companies in the U.S. -- Rapsodo and Trajekt Sports -- have teamed up to build a robot version of them, and the results are reportedly uncannily accurate.

Okay, so we’re not talking about walking-talking-pitching standalone robots, as great a sci-fi-tinged MLB ad as that would be. However, Rapsodo and Trajekt have combined their considerable powers to throw a slew of different technologies at the problem of building a machine that's able to accurately simulate the pitching style of whichever player you want to practice batting against -- and they may just have pulled it off, too.

Read more
The best portable power stations
EcoFlow DELTA 2 on table at campsite for quick charging.

Affordable and efficient portable power is a necessity these days, keeping our electronic devices operational while on the go. But there are literally dozens of options to choose from, making it abundantly difficult to decide which mobile charging solution is best for you. We've sorted through countless portable power options and came up with six of the best portable power stations to keep your smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other gadgets functioning while living off the grid.
The best overall: Jackery Explorer 1000

Jackery has been a mainstay in the portable power market for several years, and today, the company continues to set the standard. With three AC outlets, two USB-A, and two USB-C plugs, you'll have plenty of options for keeping your gadgets charged.

Read more
CES 2023: HD Hyundai’s Avikus is an A.I. for autonomous boat and marine navigation
Demonstration of NeuBoat level 2 autonomous navigation system at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show

This content was produced in partnership with HD Hyundai.
Autonomous vehicle navigation technology is certainly nothing new and has been in the works for the better part of a decade at this point. But one of the most common forms we see and hear about is the type used to control steering in road-based vehicles. That's not the only place where technology can make a huge difference. Autonomous driving systems can offer incredible benefits to boats and marine vehicles, too, which is precisely why HD Hyundai has unveiled its Avikus AI technology -- for marine and watercraft vehicles.

More recently, HD Hyundai participated in the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, to demo its NeuBoat level 2 autonomous navigation system for recreational boats. The name mashes together the words "neuron" and "boat" and is quite fitting since the Avikus' A.I. navigation tech is a core component of the solution, it will handle self-recognition, real-time decisions, and controls when on the water. Of course, there are a lot of things happening behind the scenes with HD Hyundai's autonomous navigation solution, which we'll dive into below -- HD Hyundai will also be introducing more about the tech at CES 2023.

Read more