A study was published Monday in the journal Molecular Autism by a group of scientists who believe they are close to creating an early diagnosis and treatment for autism.

Autism is a disorder which affects more than 3.5 million people in the United States that fall somewhere on the autism spectrum.

According to CBS Boston: UK and Italian scientists are getting closer to developing blood and urine tests for autism, which could lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment of the condition, a new study suggests.

The tests look for damage to certain proteins, shown to be higher in children with autism spectrum disorders.

Collaborating teams from the University of Warwick and the University of Bologna tested children ages 5 to 12, 38 who had autism and 31 who did not. Searching for differences in blood and urine samples between the two groups.

Within plasma in the blood, they found that children with autism had greater protein damage, “resulting in higher levels of an oxidation marker known as ditryosine and sugar-modified compounds called advanced glycation end-products.”

Experts say more research needs to be done, and that the tests are “far from becoming available clinically,” as the study “was small and requires further research on a larger number of children to determine whether the results are conclusive.”

From CBS Boston: Autism is a developmental disorder that mainly affects social interaction, causing a wide spectrum of behavioral problems, including hyperactivity, anxiety or speech disturbances.

An estimated 30% of cases have been found to have genetic causes. The remaining 70% are thought to be caused by a combination of environmental factors, mutations, and genetics, according to the study.