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How Parkinson’s can be diagnosed much earlier

Scientists have developed a simple blood test to detect Parkinson’s disease at its earliest stages. The test is possible because scientists found a substance in the blood, which is common in people with Parkinson’s disease, and then developed a way to identify its presence in our blood.

health and fitness Updated: Dec 01, 2011 18:33 IST

Scientists have developed a simple blood test to detect Parkinson’s disease at its earliest stages.

The test is possible because scientists found a substance in the blood, called “phosphorylated alpha-synuclein”, which is common in people with Parkinson’s disease, and then developed a way to identify its presence in our blood.

“A blood test for Parkinson’s disease would mean you could find out if a person was in danger of getting the disease, before the symptoms started,” David Allsop, a researcher involved in the work from the Division of Biomedical and Life Sciences and the School of Health and Medicine at the University of Lancaster, in Lancaster, UK, said.

“This would help the development of medicines that could protect the brain, which would be better for the quality of life and future health of older people,” he said.

To develop the blood test for Parkinson’s disease, Allsop and his colleagues studied a group of people diagnosed with the disease and a second group of healthy people of a similar age.

Blood samples from each group were analysed to determine the levels of phosphorylated alpha-synuclein present. They found those with Parkinson’s disease had increased levels of the substance.

Based upon these findings, researchers developed a blood test that detects the presence of phosphorylated alpha-synuclein, which could allow for diagnosis of the disease well before symptoms appear but when brain damage has already begun to occur.

The study has been recently published in the FASEB Journal.