Parkinson’s Disease is a degenerative neurologic disorder that affects movement, and results in loss of muscle control and balance. According to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, approximately 60,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with this disease each year.
The key symptoms that develop early in this disease are a tremor, usually on one side of the body, rigidity, impaired balance and bradykinesia, or slowness and small movements. It is difficult to make an accurate diagnosis of the condition, when these symptoms are mild during the early stages. Also there are no standard diagnostic tests. However, a recent report says that researchers from the Chicago Medical School have developed a new blood test that could help neurologists detect Parkinson’s disease and track the illness as it progresses. Their study was recently published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
About 101 people with Parkinson’s and 91 healthy people were tracked. The researchers found that gene “expression” changed significantly over three years in the Parkinson’s patients. The researchers found two genetic markers that 90 percent are effective at indicating the presence of Parkinson’s disease. However, they said that it is not clear if Parkinson’s causes changes in the genes or if the genes actually result in the development of Parkinson’s.
The objective of the study was to "greatly" improve the accuracy of Parkinson’s diagnosis through a combination of analysis of symptoms, brain scans and blood tests. But further testing is needed to confirm if the test works and is accurate. The coauthor of the study said "If successful, we expect our findings will translate into a valuable diagnostic tool for Parkinson’s disease".