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Study seeks a saliva test as quick, easy way to help diagnose autism in children

Frank Middleton, PhDResearch taking place at Upstate Medical University may lead to the development of a quick, painless tool to help diagnose autism in children. Using a swab like a Q-tip, scientists are collecting saliva from the mouths of children and analyzing the samples for tiny particles called microRNA. Scientist Frank Middleton, PhD, left, leads the study, which seeks participants between the ages of 2 and 6. (Click here for more information about the study.) Middleton is an associate professor of pediatrics, neurosciences and physiology, psychiatry and biochemistry at Upstate. If his work progresses as he hopes, Middleton envisions a test that could be given in a pediatrician's office, much like a rapid strep test, which could reveal whether a child's body has a molecular signature that would support a diagnosis of autism. Middleton is involved in research on a similar saliva test that could be used to detect concussion.