New tests to detect Parkinson's disease early on

New tests to detect Parkinson's disease early onLondon, Sep 27 - Parkinson's disease could be identified years before it begins to show symptoms.

Researchers have identified key markers that may indicate whether a patient is at risk of developing the neurodegenerative disease.

Currently its patients are diagnosed through an evaluation of symptoms, by which time the disease is already well advanced.

Scientists, however, will reveal new research at the World Parkinson's Congress in Glasgow this week that has identified a series of proteins in the blood and spinal fluid to provide an early warning of the disease, reports The Telegraph.

Michael Schlossmacher, the neuroscientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute in Canada, will make a presentation on a protein known as alpha-synuclein, found at elevated levels in the spinal fluid of Parkinson's patients.

He said: "At the moment when we look at around 100 people with Parkinson's, around 75 to 77 of them will have higher levels of alpha-synuclein.

"We are hoping to find the equivalent of bad cholesterol in heart disease for Parkinson's in terms of a risk factor. Alpha-synuclein is one of the best candidates."

"We may be able to take a sample of the cerebral spinal fluid from a spinal tap and do a test to see if someone is developing Parkinson's disease."

Another protein called LRRK2 has also been linked with an increased risk of developing Parkinson's disease and is currently one of a number of other markers being investigated as part of a major study in the US funded by the Michael J. Fox Foundation.

Caroline Tanner, who leads the project as director of clinical research at the Parkinson's Institute in California, said: "There is pretty good evidence that begins years before other clinical symptoms emerge.

"Early intervention could help slow or halt the disease progress and so prevent the cognitive decline." (IANS)