A groundbreaking study has detected a substance which appears in the blood of Parkinson’s sufferers.
Millions of people worldwide, including high-profile figures such as Michael J. Fox and Muhammad Ali, are blighted by Parkinson’s disease which affects the way the brain co-ordinates body movements, including walking, talking and writing.
And now a team from the University of Lancaster believe that low levels of a protein called ‘phosphorylated alpha-synuclein’ (PAS) in the bloodstream could be used an early indicator of the illness.
Lead researcher Dr. Allsop said: ‘A blood test for Parkinson’s disease would mean you could find out if a person was in danger of getting the disease, before the symptoms started.
‘This would help the development of medicines that could protect the brain, which would be better for the quality of life and future health of older people.’
The study, published in the journal FASEB, assessed sufferers and healthy patients of a similar age.
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They found that those with Parkinson’s had an increased level of PAS compared with non-sufferers.
It is now thought that this could allow for a diagnose to be made before symptoms, such as tremors and slowness of movement have occurred.
Dr. Gerald Weissmann, of the FASEB journal, said: ‘When most people think of Parkinson’s disease, they think of the outward symptoms, such as involuntary movements.
‘But many people with Parkinson’s also develop neurological problems that may be more difficult to detect right away.’
There is currently no test to detect the neurological condition but it is hoped the discovery will prompt a reliable screening process.
Scientists believe low levels of a protein called ‘phosphorylated alpha-synuclein’ (PAS) in the bloodstream could be an early indicator of the illness.
‘Having a blood test not only helps doctors rule out other possible causes of the outward symptoms, but it also allows for early detection.’
Dr. Gerald Weissmann added that this would allow patients and their family to prepare for the onset of mental, emotional and behavioral problems.
Parkinson’s affects around 120,000 people in the UK and is named after Dr. James Parkinson, who first identified it in 1817.
It affects men and women, although men are statistically slightly more likely to develop it than women, with symptoms usually appearing in people over the age of 50.