Exposomics: Could It Be a Game Changer in Solving the Autism Puzzle?

October 31, 2022

The Exposome Can Be Modified, Potentially Leading to Better Treatments and Even Prevention of ASD

Exposomics is a new area of research that is a direct product of genome mapping. In short, the exposome is a measure of an individual’s environmental exposures during their lifetime and how those exposures relate to health. A person’s exposure begins before birth and includes insults from environmental and occupational sources. Realizing the great potential in this research area, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai launched the Institute for Exposomic Research five years ago. A newly published interview with several of the institute’s experts outlines their innovative work. Essentially, these researchers regard exposomics as the key to understanding why some children develop autism and others don’t. They believe studying the environment is crucial to solving the autism puzzle. These experts reject the notion that autism is merely a genetic disease, pointing to the steady rise in autism prevalence since the 1990s. They emphasize that despite decades of extensive research, a genetic cause has not been identified. The researchers explain that many factors contribute to an autism diagnosis. And that a clearer picture of causation arises by combining all environmental factors and studying them in the context of genetic risk. By recognizing that the environment is dynamic and not static, these experts have developed a test that uses a single strand of hair to map a person’s metabolic dynamics as an interface between genes and the environment. Their test delivers a more than 90% accurate result in helping diagnose autism as early as birth. This team has also developed a similar test using baby teeth. Contrary to genetics, the exposome can be modified since it is related to the environment. Due to this fact, exposomics provides the potential to not only develop therapies to reduce the effects of autism in children but prevent the disorder altogether. The early aspect of the institute’s diagnostic test is exciting. The earlier autism is diagnosed, the more effective treatment and therapy will be. 

Original Article

Exposomic Research Video

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