University laboratories’ participation in the fight against autism in children

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Breakthrough tests allowing an earlier and more accurate diagnosis of autism in children have been developed, for the first time in Poland, at the University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn, Poland.

On 29 March 2017, the University of Warmia and Mazury concluded an agreement with the company ALAB Laboratoria for the use of the know-how developed by the Medical Biochemistry Team for Peptide and Protein Research of the Faculty of Biology and Biotechnology under the direction of Professor Elżbieta Kostyra.

These are breakthrough tests, the first of their kind in Poland, the results of which will help to mitigate the effects of autism in children. In future, the tests will enable a quicker and more accurate diagnosis of this severe condition in children at a very early stage of their lives.

Autism is a complex disorder of the development and functioning of the central nervous system, characterised by disturbances in the ability to communicate emotions and to develop interpersonal relationships. The condition is manifested by isolation from the surrounding world and primarily by the improper functioning within all areas of development. The causes of autism have not yet been fully identified. What is worrying is that more and more children are developing this condition. According to one of the hypotheses, it is genetic developmental factors as well as disorders occurring in pregnancy and during childbirth that are responsible for autism in children. In the USA, it has already become a serious concern, as 200 children out of 10,000 suffer from the condition.

In Poland, the situation is also alarming, particularly in the province of Warmia and Mazury. Until recently, 2 persons out of 10,000 had autism. Currently, the incidence rate has increased to 6.5 persons out of 10,000.

The company ALAB Laboratoria sp. z o.o. is one of major nationwide networks of diagnostic laboratories. It comprises 50 laboratories which perform over 35 million tests per annum.

Signing of the agreement was preceded by over 8 months’ of negotiations. Coordination of the commercialisation process, as well as legal and administrative management, were provided by the Centre of Innovation and Technology Transfer of the University of Warmia and Mazury.

In the photograph: Professor Jerzy Jaroszewski, Vice-Rector for Research, and Ms Ewa Małkowska, President of ALAG Laboratoria.