Juergen Hahn's article on cover of PLoS Computational Biology
A recent article on identifying biomarkers for Autism Spectrum Disorder by Juergen Hahn's group made the cover of PLOS Computational Biology. The article can be found by following the link below:
Howsmon DP, Kruger U, Melnyk S, James SJ, Hahn J (2017) Classification and adaptive behavior prediction of children with autism spectrum disorder based upon multivariate data analysis of markers of oxidative stress and DNA methylation. PLoS Comput Biol 13(3): e1005385.
The number of diagnosed cases of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) has increased dramatically over the last four decades; however, there is still considerable debate regarding the underlying pathophysiology of ASD. This lack of biological knowledge restricts diagnoses to be made based on behavioral observations and psychometric tools. However, physiological measurements should support these behavioral diagnoses in the future in order to enable earlier and more accurate diagnoses. Stepping towards this goal of incorporating biochemical data into ASD diagnosis, this paper analyzes measurements of metabolite concentrations of the folate-dependent one-carbon metabolism and transulfuration pathways taken from blood samples of 83 participants with ASD and 76 age-matched neurotypical peers. Fisher Discriminant Analysis enables multivariate classification of the participants as on the spectrum or neurotypical which results in 96.1% of all neurotypical participants being correctly identified as such while still correctly identifying 97.6% of the ASD cohort. Furthermore, kernel partial least squares is used to predict adaptive behavior, as measured by the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Composite score, where measurement of five metabolites of the pathways was sufficient to predict the Vineland score with an R^2 of 0.45 after crossvalidation. This level of accuracy for classification as well as severity prediction far exceeds any other approach in this field and is a strong indicator that the metabolites under consideration are strongly correlated with an ASD diagnosis but also that the statistical analysis used here offers tremendous potential for extracting important information from complex biochemical data sets.