Dedicated to helping families affected by autism
The MaraBio test is based on a proprietary set of autoantibody biomarkers discovered in the blood of a significant percentage of mothers with autistic children. Dr. Judy Van de Water, a Professor in the Division of Rheumatology/Allergy and Clinical Immunology at UC Davis and the UC Davis MIND Institute, has defined a new subtype of autism that is immune-mediated, now known as Maternal Antibody Related Autism (MARA), that identify mothers at risk for having ASD children, and can assist in the early diagnosis of children showing signs of developmental delay.
Dr. Van de Water has conducted extensive clinical studies that, to date, has demonstrated >99% specificity for autism. While the MARA test does not identify all causes of autism, the clinical data show that the MARA form of autism may account for approximately 25% of the cases (or approximately 1 in 200 live births). Further, the data show that the combination or pattern of autoantibodies present in the mother may be predictive of the severity of autism in her child. Ultimately, knowing if a child has MARA may help therapists tailor their intervention approaches for better outcomes in the future.
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Immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies transfer at high concentrations beginning around mid-gestation in humans as a mechanism to protect the fetus against pathogens. Under normal conditions, antibodies are unable to cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB) to access the brain. However, the BBB is permissive during early brain development and thus permits maternal antibodies access to the fetal brain. Prenatal exposure to maternal antibodies that bind to fetal brain has been suggested as a mechanism for altering normal brain development.
Several researchers have now independently identified a strong association between maternal autoantibodies reactive towards fetal brain proteins and risk of ASD. In particular, a pattern of reactivity to fetal brain proteins at approximately 37 and 73 kDa was originally found uniquely among mothers of children with ASD. Furthermore, the same pattern of reactivity has been observed in prospectively collected mid-gestation blood samples from mothers who went on to have a child with ASD, supporting the possibility that these autoantibodies may be causal for at least one form of ASD.
The proteins targeted by the candidate antigens in fetal brain tissue. Through tandem mass the target proteins were identified as: lactate dehydrogenase A and B (LDH-A, LDH-B), guanine deaminase (GDA), stress-induced phosphoprotein 1 (STIP1), collapsin response mediator proteins 1 and 2 (CRMP1, CRMP2), and Y-box binding protein 1 (YBX1) and neuron specific enolase (NSE). Interestingly, each of the identified target proteins is expressed at significant levels in the human fetal brain and has an established role in neurodevelopment
The MARA Test is a non-invasive, simple blood test that will identify women who have an increased risk of having a child with autism. The test will measure eight (8) specific autoantibodies that have been linked to a form of autism that represents up to 1 in 4 of all diagnosed cases. This test can be used to help rule in an autism diagnosis for a child with developmental delay, or to subtype the form of autism for treatment of a child with autism. Additionally, the test can be used by high-risk women before they get pregnant to assess their risk of having a child with ASD.
The MARA antibody test is in development for three types of “at risk” women: 1) Women of child-bearing age who have already had a child with autism, 2) Mothers of young children in need of a diagnosis for their child’s perceived developmental delay, and 3) Women over the age of 35 (who are at least 2 times more likely to give birth to an autistic child). Specifically, women in this group that are considering In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) to become pregnant may want to consider taking the test before they proceed with the procedure. The MARA test is not intended for pregnant women or women who think that they might be pregnant.
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