Parkinson’s disease affects 10 million people worldwide and is the second most common disease that damages the brain and nerves after Alzheimer’s.
Doctors currently diagnose Parkinson’s mostly based on the symptoms, but often only after the disease has already caused major damage.
Scientists at Duke Health have now developed a blood test that could diagnose Parkinson’s disease much earlier.
This is big news because early diagnosis could mean earlier treatment and potentially slow the effects of the disease.
How does the test work?
The new blood test examines DNA damage in a specific part of the cell called the mitochondria. Think of mitochondria as little energy factories in cells.
They have their own set of DNA, separate from the DNA in the main part of the cell.
Researchers led by Laurie Sanders found that people with Parkinson’s have more damage to their mitochondrial DNA. So they developed a test that can detect this type of DNA damage in blood cells.
The team had previously found additional mitochondrial DNA damage in the brain tissue of people who had died of Parkinson’s.
In the new study, they used a method similar to a special DNA scan to check the extent of this damage in blood samples.
They found that the test could identify people with Parkinson’s disease, even those who had a specific genetic risk factor called LRRK2 that increases the likelihood of developing the disease.
Not just a diagnostic tool, but a guide to treatment
What is even more exciting is that this blood test is not only suitable for diagnosing Parkinson’s disease, but could also help in its treatment.
The test found a lower level of mitochondrial DNA damage in cells treated with a drug that targets the effects of the LRRK2 genetic mutation.
This means the test could be used to find out which patients might benefit from certain treatments.
“The goal is not only to diagnose Parkinson’s disease, but also to find drugs that can reverse or stop the damage. Right now we’re just treating the symptoms, but that could change,” said Laurie Sanders.
The researchers are optimistic but cautious. They plan to try the new blood test on people who have early-stage Parkinson’s disease before symptoms appear.
This could be a big step towards not only treating the disease, but also slowing it down or even stopping it before it takes a significant toll on people’s lives.
While this test is still in its infancy, the potential impact is huge. It could change the way we diagnose and treat one of the most common and devastating brain diseases, and bring hope to millions of people around the world.
If you care about the health of your brain, please read Studies Showing Bad Lifestyle Habits Can Cause Alzheimer’s Disease and This New Drug May Help Treat Alzheimer’s Disease.
For more information on brain health, check out recent studies on a new early sign of Alzheimer’s disease. The results show that this brain problem can increase the risk of stroke for up to five years.
The study was published In Scientific translational medicine.
follow us on Twitter for more articles on this topic.
Copyright © 2023 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.