Jul 23, 2019 | Updated: 09:15 AM EDT

Scientists Can Detect Parkinson's Disease Years Before Symptoms

Jun 24, 2019 11:41 AM EDT

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In a recent study, scientists reported finding the earliest signs of Parkinson's disease. The team of researchers stated that the said disease can be detected in the brain years before patients even show any symptoms. The early discovery of Parkinson's disease for at-risk individuals could lead to better screening.

Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that causes patients to lose control over their movements and experience cognitive problems. Collected data shows that the disease has affected around 10 million people worldwide.

A person with Parkinson's disease has a build up of a specific protein called a-synuclein. The medical community is still unclear about what causes the build-up of this said protein. In some cases, individuals are born with a genetic mutation. If so these individuals are most likely to develop the disease at some point in their life.

For this research, data from 14 individuals carrying the said mutation, 65 Patience of none genetic Parkinson's disease, and 25 healthy volunteers were compared by a team of scientists from King's College London.

The results revealed the changes in the serotonin system in the brains of people who suffer from Parkinson's disease started to malfunction before the symptoms occurred were observed.

Heather Wilson, from the university's Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Neuroscience, stated that they found that serotonin function was an excellent marker for how advanced Parkinson's disease has become. Wilson added that brain imaging of the serotonin system could one day become a valuable tool which can detect individuals who are at risk of Parkinson's disease. This could also monitor personal progression and help with the development of new effective treatments.

The previous suspicion on the causes of Parkinson's disease include levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine. There is also growing evidence of a possible link between gut function and the occurrence of Parkinson's disease. However, both these theories are yet to be studied.

Beckie Port, research communications manager at Parkinson's UK stated that picking up on the condition earlier and being able to monitor the disease's progression would aid the discovery of a new and better treatment that could slow down the degeneration of brain cells for individuals that are affected by Parkinson's disease.

The scientist pointed out that further research is still needed to fully understand the importance of detecting Parkinson's disease early on. However, The experts stated that if this discovery could be used to unlock a tool to measure and monitor how Parkinson's disease develops, it could result in changing countless lives.
This research was published in the journal the Lancet Neurology.

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