The Autism Biomarkers Consortium for Clinical Trials (ABC-CT): Scientific Context, Study Design, and Progress Toward Biomarker Qualification
Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience
Clinical research in neurodevelopmental disorders remains reliant upon clinician and caregiver measures. Limitations of these approaches indicate a need for objective, quantitative, and reliable biomarkers to advance clinical research. Extant research suggests the potential utility of multiple candidate biomarkers; however, effective application of these markers in trials requires additional understanding of replicability, individual differences, and intra-individual stability over time. The
... ism Biomarkers Consortium for Clinical Trials (ABC-CT) is a multi-site study designed to investigate a battery of electrophysiological (EEG) and eye-tracking (ET) indices as candidate biomarkers for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The study complements published biomarker research through: inclusion of large, deeply phenotyped cohorts of children with ASD and typical development; a longitudinal design; a focus on well-evidenced candidate biomarkers harmonized with an independent sample; high levels of clinical, regulatory, technical, and statistical rigor; adoption of a governance structure incorporating diverse expertise in the ASD biomarker discovery and qualification process; prioritization of open science, including creation of a repository containing biomarker, clinical, and genetic data; and use of economical and scalable technologies that are applicable in developmental populations and those with special needs. The ABC-CT approach has yielded encouraging results, with one measure accepted into the FDA's Biomarker Qualification Program to date. Through these advances, the ABC-CT and other biomarker studies in progress hold promise to deliver novel tools to improve clinical trials research in ASD.