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Chemical markers for autism: a metabolite profiling study


Autism is a condition involving abnormal childhood neurological developmental behaviour. Whilst there are accepted diagnostic criteria based on behavioural testing, there is at present no consensus on biochemical factors involved in this chronic condition, and no drug-based treatments prove to ameliorate the condition. Research on autism is of enormous importance for society, yet relatively few papers on the disease are published in journals surveyed by databases covering the physical and biological sciences .The aim of this project is to apply a metabolite profiling approach in an unbiased strategy for finding markers for autism, with the goal of assisting diagnosis and identifying metabolic pathways which have been disturbed.

Objectives are to use:
(i) LC-MS, capillary electrophoresis and NMR to collect analytical data on urine samples from autistic and non-autistic children,
(ii) data analysis to locate significant difference features between the data from control and autistic population sets, and a data-fusion approach to elucidate and combine difference features from the three methodologies,
(iii) MS/MS and NMR to obtain structural information and identification of compounds responsible for difference features.

The proposed project will allow the researcher to complete her previous research experience in an international setting and will provide the researcher training in a multidisciplinary field of importance for her professional career as an independent scientist. Results on autism from the proposed project will also be valuable for society. This work has the potential to identify the points at which metabolism has been disturbed in the condition of autism, and thus point the way for new diagnostics and targets for treatment.

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United Kingdom