We aim to identify markers to predict how a person may develop and respond to interventions. These features are called biomarkers, short for biological markers. They can be any objective measure, such as the presence of a certain gene, a pattern of brain activity or a score on a questionnaire. Biomarkers could be used in the process of diagnosis of neurodevelopmental conditions, to predict who may develop co-occurring symptoms, and to select which interventions, supports or treatments will work best for an individual.
To identify biomarkers, we will follow participants over time in what are called longitudinal studies. Participants will include children with autism, ADHD, ID, epilepsy and typically developing children (PIP study). In the Multiplex study, the participants are families in which one child has autism and at least one other child has autism, ID, ADHD or epilepsy.
The research will focus on six factors thought to play a role in the core and frequently associated characteristics of neurodevelopmental conditions: executive function; responses to emotion; processing of rewards; social cues; sensory information and unpredictable
Any biomarkers that we identify could next be tested by researchers across the world to confirm that the biomarkers work as expected in people from different places and backgrounds. To make this easier, we will share our data and study designs. When a biomarker is successfully validated, the next step will be to gain approval to use it in tests of new treatments and in clinical practice by liaising with international regulatory authorities.