Category Archives: Technology

Blood and urine tests developed to indicate autism in children

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/02/180219103908.htm

Science News
from research organizations

Blood and urine tests developed to indicate autism in children

Date:
February 19, 2018
Source:
University of Warwick
Summary:
New blood and urine tests which search for damage to proteins could lead to earlier detection of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and consequently children with autism could be given appropriate treatment much earlier in their lives. ASDs are defined as developmental disorders mainly affecting social interaction and they can include a wide spectrum of behavioral problems. These include speech disturbances, repetitive and/or compulsive behavior, hyperactivity, anxiety, and difficulty to adapt to new environments, some with or without cognitive impairment.
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ASDs are defined as developmental disorders mainly affecting social interaction and they can include a wide spectrum of behavioural problems. These include speech disturbances, repetitive and/or compulsive behaviour, hyperactivity, anxiety, and difficulty to adapt to new environments, some with or without cognitive impairment. Since there is a wide range of ASD symptoms diagnosis can be difficult and uncertain, particularly at the early stages of development.

The paper “Advanced glycation endproducts, dityrosine, and arginine transporter dysfunction in autism-a source of biomarkers for clinical diagnosis” has been published in Molecular Autism. The team was led by Dr Naila Rabbani, Reader of Experimental Systems Biology at the University of Warwick who said: “Our discovery could lead to earlier diagnosis and intervention.”

“We hope the tests will also reveal new causative factors. With further testing we may reveal specific plasma and urinary profiles or “fingerprints” of compounds with damaging modifications. This may help us improve the diagnosis of ASD and point the way to new causes of ASD.”

The team which is based at the University’s Warwick Medical School involves academics at the University of Warwick’s Warwick Systems Biology group, the University of Birmingham, the University of Bologna, the Institute of Neurological Sciences, Bologna, and the Don Carlo Gnocchi Foundation ONLUS. They found a link between ASD and damage to proteins in blood plasma by oxidation and glycation — processes where reactive oxygen species (ROS) and sugar molecules spontaneously modify proteins. They found the most reliable of the tests they developed was examining protein in blood plasma where, when tested, children with ASD were found to have higher levels of the oxidation marker dityrosine (DT) and certain sugar-modified compounds called “advanced glycation endproducts” (AGEs).

Genetic causes have been found in 30-35% of cases of ASD and the remaining 65-70% of cases are thought to be caused by a combination of environmental factors, multiple mutations, and rare genetic variants. However the research team also believe that the new tests could reveal yet to be identified causes of ASD.

The team’s research also confirmed the previously held belief that mutations of amino acid transporters are a genetic variant associated with ASD.

The Warwick team worked with collaborators at the University of Bologna, Italy, who recruited locally 38 children who were diagnosed as having with ASD (29 boys and nine girls) and a control group of 31 healthy children (23 boys and eight girls) between the ages of five and 12. Blood and urine samples were taken from the children for analysis.

The Warwick team discovered that there were chemical differences between the two groups. Working with a further collaborator at the University of Birmingham, the changes in multiple compounds were combined together using artificial intelligence algorithms techniques to develop a mathematical equation or “algorithm” to distinguish between ASD and healthy controls. The outcome was a diagnostic test better than any method currently available.

The next steps are to repeat the study with further groups of children to confirm the good diagnostic performance and to assess if the test can identify ASD at very early stages, indicate how the ASD is likely to develop further to more severe disease and assess if treatments are working.

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Materials provided by University of WarwickNote: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Attia Anwar, Provvidenza Maria Abruzzo, Sabah Pasha, Kashif Rajpoot, Alessandra Bolotta, Alessandro Ghezzo, Marina Marini, Annio Posar, Paola Visconti, Paul J. Thornalley, Naila Rabbani. Advanced glycation endproducts, dityrosine and arginine transporter dysfunction in autism – a source of biomarkers for clinical diagnosisMolecular Autism, 2018; 9 (1) DOI: 10.1186/s13229-017-0183-3

Cite This Page:

University of Warwick. “Blood and urine tests developed to indicate autism in children.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 February 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/02/180219103908.htm>.
For more Autism News on ScienceDaily follow this link: https://www.sciencedaily.com/news/mind_brain/autism/

21 Chrome Extensions for Struggling Students and Special Needs

21 Chrome Extensions for Struggling Students and Special Needs

21 Chrome Extensions for Struggling Students and Special Needs

Technology can be a powerful tool to assist students with special needs or any sort of learning challenge. In particular the Chrome web browser allows users to install a wide variety of web extensions that provide tools that can help all learners, regardless of ability level.

In this blog post we will take a look at 21 Chrome web extensions that can assist students in five main categories:

  • Text to Speech
  • Readability
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Focus
  • Navigation

Some of the tools fit into more than one topic, but each is only listed once. Certainly this list does not cover all of the useful web extensions available for struggling learners, but it is a great place to begin. In addition to the list of extension, I have also linked in the video and help guide from a webinar I did a while back on “Google Tools for Special Needs”.

Text to Speech extensions

1) Read&Write for Google Chrome
Chrome web extension link
The “Swiss Army Knife” of extensions with tools including word prediction, dictionary, picture dictionary, text to speech, screenshot reader, speech maker, screen mask, translator, highlighters, voice note, and more. Works on webpages, PDFs, Google Docs, and Google Slides.
Note: There is a paid version with all the tools and a free version with a subset of the tools. Educators can get the paid version for a year at no cost by filling out the form at:http://rw.texthelp.com/drive/home/RegisterTeacher

2) SpeakIt!
Chrome web extension link
This text to speech tool will read aloud any selected text from a website, with the options to adjust the voice, speed, and volume.

3) Announcify
Chrome web extension link
This is another text to speech tool that not only reads a webpage, but also removes distracting elements from the site. The only drawback is the inability to select specific text to read, as the entire page is read aloud.

Readability extensions

4) Readability
Chrome web extension link
Make any website easier to read by removing ads, comments, and all other distractions, so just the core content remains. Users can also adjust the font size and color scheme of the new text.

5) OpenDyslexic
Chrome web extension link
Override all fonts on a webpage with the OpenDyslexic font, making the text more easily readable.

6) BeeLine Reader
Chrome web extension link
This tool creates a more readable version of a web page by removing all the ads, comments, and other extra distracting items, and then applies a color gradient to the page text guide your eye from one line to the next. (Limit of 5 articles per day for free version.)

7) ATbar
Chrome web extension link
Toolbar with features including color overlays for webpages, dictionary, text to speech, word prediction, and more.

8) MagicScroll Web Reader
Chrome web extension link
Turn web pages into a flippable e-book with easy clickable or keyboard control, as well as control over font size and page color as well.

9) Readline
Chrome web extension link
Although originally designed as a speed reading tool, you can slow the WPM rate down so students can use this to focus on one word at a time when reading to not lose their place.

10) Visor
Chrome web extension link
This screen overlay tool darkens out the page except for a horizontal band you can move up and down as you read, helping the student focus.

11) High Contrast
Chrome web extension link
This tool can make webpages easier to read by changing the colors to increase contrast, invert the colors, or switch to gray-scale.

12) Color Enhancer
Chrome web extension link
For people who are partially color-blind, this tool can help adjust and improve webpage colors.

Reading Comprehension extensions

13) Google Dictionary
Chrome web extension link
Don’t get stuck on an unknown word. Double-click on any word to get a pop-up definition, as well as spoken pronunciation for many words.

14) sentiSum:Smart Summarizer
Chrome web extension link
This extension takes an entire webpage and create a short summary in a few sentences to give the reader a quick overview of the content.

Focus extensions

15) Simple Blocker
Chrome web extension link
This tool helps students to stay focused on their work by blocking distracting websites. The user can choose the sites to block, how long to block them, and optional password protection.

16) uBlock Origin
Chrome web extension link
A simple but powerful ad-blocking extension to help remove distracting ads from websites, making pages less cluttered and easier to read.

17) Move It
Chrome web extension link
For students who need a break, this extension can be set to periodically have them stop working and do something physical for a moment.

Navigation extensions

18) Click-free Browsing
Chrome web extension link
For users who have a difficulty clicking a mouse, this extension adds on-screen navigation buttons the user can simply hover over to use.

19) Vimium
Chrome web extension link
Provides keyboard shortcuts for navigation and control for someone with difficulty using a mouse.

20) CrxMouse
Chrome web extension link
Use mouse gestures to navigate including forward, backward, scrolling, refreshing, switching tabs, and more. The user can even program their own custom mouse gestures to open programs and perform other tasks.

21) Caret Browsing
Chrome web extension link
This extension gives you a movable cursor in any web page, allowing you to move through the text with your arrows keys and select text with the keyboard.

Additional Resources

Video training webinar (1 hour)


Help Guide – “Google Tools for Special Needs” – Google Document link

What other Chrome web extensions have you found that can assist students with special needs and struggling learners? Share your suggestions in the comments below.

Post by Eric Curts. Connect with Eric on Twitter at twitter.com/ericcurts and on Google+ at plus.google.com/+EricCurts1