CSF and Blood Biomarkers of Social Functioning in Autism

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterized by core social deficits and affects an estimated 1 in 68 children in the US, but remains poorly understood. Few biomarkers of ASD have been identified, hindering the understanding of basic biology; nor are there any pharmacotherapies that treat the social deficits of ASD. The goal of this project is to test whether children with and without autism differ in candidate (e.g., oxytocin and vasopressin) and discovery-based biomarkers, whether these biomarkers are related to social functioning, and whether cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and blood measures are differentially or equally informative. This research could lead to the discovery of novel “drugable” targets, implementation of earlier and more accurate diagnostic methods, and development of targeted therapeutic treatments for the social deficits of ASD.