A new way of detecting Parkinson’s disease has been found

Detecting Parkinson’s disease has never been an exact science, with many diagnoses relying on various symptoms and behavioural changes. But
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Detecting Parkinson’s disease has never been an exact science, with many diagnoses relying on various symptoms and behavioural changes. But as several other neurological disorders also present with similar symptoms as Parkinson’s diagnosis and treatment can be delayed.

In recent years scientists have been working towards identifying the biomarkers and DNA in a person that would clearly indicate a patient has Parkinson’s disease.

While success has been varied, and the research has involved taking cerebrospinal fluid from a patient as a sample, investigators at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in the United States have identified a new biomarker measured from a patient’s urine.

The discovery of this biomarker may act as a potential guide for future clinical treatments as well as the effectiveness of new Parkinson’s drugs during treatment.

“Nobody thought we’d be able to measure the activity of this huge protein called LRRK2 [pronouned Lark two] in biofluids since it is usually found inside neurons of the brain,” professor Andrew West says.

He says urine and cerebrospinal fluid samples from patients with Parkinson’s disease had been locked in freezers at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke National Repository for the last five years. They were stored in the hope that one day they would reveal the cause of the neurodegenerative disease.

“New biochemical markers like the ones we’ve discovered, together with new neuroimaging approaches are going to be the key to successfully stopping Parkinson’s disease in its tracks,” West says.

Do you or does someone you know suffer from Parkinson’s disease? What do you think of this latest news?

  1. Shawn Lewin  

    Exciting and encouraging news!

  2. Thor Eriksen  

    That would be to good to be true

  3. Chris  

    Just find a cure, or stop it in it’s tracks.

  4. Hans de Rycke  

    Consumption of dairy products, especially milk, increases a man’s risk of contracting Parkinson’s disease, according to a recent study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
    Previous studies have established a link between Parkinson’s — a degenerative central nervous system disorder that commonly causes the impairment of motor skills, including speech — and the consumption of dairy. However, the mechanism for this effect is not yet understood.
    Milk accounted for most of the correlation, rather than more processed products like yogurt or cheese.
    Men’s Parkinson’s risk in the study increased in a manner directly proportional to their dairy intake.
    Women’s Parkinson’s risk, however, appeared to be independent of their dairy intake. (Monday, January 07, 2008 by: David Gutierrez)
    This is probably related to the predominantly lactating female hormones present in cow’s milk which could upset the hormone delivery system in the males.

    • “New biochemical markers like the ones we’ve discovered, together with new neuroimaging approaches are going to be the key to successfully stopping Parkinson’s disease in its tracks,” West says.

      With all due respect, new biochemical markers and new neuroimaging approaches can improve diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, but they do nothing to treat it. Novel therapeutic agents, such as nilotinib, might “stop Parkinson’s disease in its tracks, or perhaps even reverse the course of the underlying neurodegeneration, but such treatments can be evaluated with existing techniques, such as comparison of disease progression by clinical evaluation of patients enrolled in delayed-start clinical trials. New diagnostic markers would be convenient, but neither necessary nor sufficient to develop a cure.

    • Sorry, my comment ended up in your reply bin. Here is my reply to your comment about the epidemiological study which associated milk with risk for Parkinson’s disease, with a dose-response effect. What evidence for a hormonal mechanism can you cite, other than as a way to explain the lack of any association of dairy intake with PD risk in females? Women have a smaller baseline risk of PD, is that thought to be due to hormonal differences? If so, modulating those same hormones by means of variation of dairy content of diet should modulate their PD risk as well, one way or the other. An observed association has little significance unless it can be used to generate hypotheses that can be tested in controlled trials. The results of observational studies do not have the statistical strength required to base treatment or diet decisions.

  5. “New biochemical markers like the ones we’ve discovered, together with new neuroimaging approaches are going to be the key to successfully stopping Parkinson’s disease in its tracks,” West says.

    With all due respect, new biochemical markers and new neuroimaging approaches can improve diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, but they do nothing to treat it. Novel therapeutic agents, such as nilotinib, might “stop Parkinson’s disease in its tracks, or perhaps even reverse the course of the underlying neurodegeneration, but such treatments can be evaluated with existing techniques, such as comparison of disease progression by clinical evaluation of patients enrolled in delayed-start clinical trials. New diagnostic markers would be convenient, but neither necessary nor sufficient to develop a cure.

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