Parkinson's Disease Can Now Be Detected 30 Years Earlier

Early Detection of Parkinson's Disease

Researchers at The Florey and Austin Health in Melbourne, Australia have developed a method to identify early signs of Parkinson’s symptoms.

Before Going Deeper

Let’s first define Parkinson’s Disease (PD): it’s a chronic neurodegenerative condition that affects the central nervous system, targeting the brain’s movement control areas.

It progressively worsens over time, leading to various symptoms and affecting movement, balance, and other functional areas.

“Parkinson’s disease is very hard to diagnose until symptoms are obvious, by which time up to 85 percent of the brain’s neurons that control motor coordination have been destroyed. At that point, many treatments are likely to be ineffective,” said Florey Professor Kevin Barnham, lead researcher in the study published in Neurology.

“Our long-term goal is to find a way to detect the disease much earlier and treat people before the damage is done,” added Professor Branham.

Early Detection Has a Technique

For such sensitive and early detection of Parkinson’s Disease, there is a method that utilizes the fusion of two tools:

  1. F-AV-133, a radioactive tracer: This compound adheres to a specific protein associated with Parkinson’s disease in the brain.
  2. PET scans: Positron Emission Tomography scans. These scans can visualize the distribution of the tracer in the brain, highlighting areas where PD-related protein buildup is present.

By using the above two methods, early detection is possible, enabling patients to access treatment before the symptoms take hold in the brain, thereby reducing the disease’s impact on quality of life.

Oh, and this approach provides the freedom and necessary space for researchers to trial new interventions and therapies much earlier in the disease process. It definitely leads to more efficient treatments later on.

Despite the good, remains an ‘only if’

The techniques and tools used for the early detection of Parkinson’s Disease are extremely promising, but they are still under investigation and have not yet become a standard clinical test. Additional studies are needed to confirm their accuracy and efficiency across broader demographic groups.

Besides that, PET scans are expensive and not widely available. Therefore, researchers are exploring more accessible and alternative imaging techniques for broader implementation.

What ‘if’ a new cure will be the new promising finding for Parkinson Disease not just detecting it in an early stage?

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