GGC's Autism Program Receives BCBS SC Foundation Grant
The Greenwood Genetic Center (GGC) has been awarded a $300,000 grant from the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation. The one-year grant will support the Center's ongoing work to develop a blood-based diagnostic test for autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Scientists at GGC's JC Self Research Institute have identified a unique metabolic profile in blood samples from individuals with autism as compared to controls. "These findings have the potential to be translated into the first blood-based diagnostic test for autism providing a diagnosis at the earliest possible age," said GGC's Director, Steve Skinner, MD. "And the most exciting part of this work is that understanding these profiles could point us toward an effective treatment for ASD."
Anand K. Srivastava, PhD, Associate Director of Research at GGC, is working with the Center's biochemical diagnostic laboratory to develop the blood-based screening test. "This funding will provide GGC with resources to complete critical steps before the blood test can be made available clinically," said Srivastava. "We must complete additional studies to further refine our initial metabolic profiling results, assess how reliable the results are in different patient populations, and determine the youngest age at which the results are useful in making a diagnosis of autism."
"The BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation is committed to improving healthcare for all South Carolinians, and we see tremendous benefits in helping families get an autism diagnosis at the earliest possible time," said Foundation Executive Director, Harvey Galloway. "One in 68 children in our state has an ASD diagnosis, and the earlier this diagnosis is confirmed, the better their outcome will be."
GGC is also collaborating with the Hope Academy in Greenville and the Olson Huff Center in Asheville, NC who are providing additional samples for the validation of the test. The SC Department of Disabilities and Special Needs has provided additional funding for the development of the Autism Program at GGC. Scientists at Clemson University are providing computational support for this project.
GGC is currently recruiting families expecting a child and/or with a child under the age of 18 months to assist in this study. For more information contact Cindy Skinner, Research Sample Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or 864-941-8115.
About the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation
Headquartered in Columbia, the foundation is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Its mission is to promote and support healthier South Carolinians, particularly the economically vulnerable, by supporting solutions to address gaps in health care and serving as an agent of change to support innovation and value-added public-private partnerships.
Photo: Dr. Anand Srivastave reviews metabolic profiling data for GGC's autism test development