Researchers are investigating blood-based biomarkers for earlier diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease
According to a study published in the latest issue of the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease, Parkinson’s disease could be diagnosed early through blood tests. Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disease that usually occurs in people over 60 years, but there are situations where the disease occurs in younger people, that is around the age of 40 years. It should be noted that Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disease that is characterized by low levels of dopamine neurons in the brain. It also should be noted that it is one of the rare neurological disease that can be kept under control relatively well with medication.
A drawback is that the diagnosis of the disease arises late because when motor symptoms occur, the number of dopaminergic neurons in the brain is already very low. Major symptoms are bradykinesia, resting tremor, rigidity and postural instability. Although Parkinson’s disease is associated particularly with tremor this occurs only in 30% of cases, and is a resting tremor, which is emphasized by emotions, gets better during voluntary movements and disappears in sleep. Because of stiffness, patients may not be able to move at all, which is called akinesia. Also, people with Parkinson’s had a specific posture and a characteristic walking. Besides motor symptoms, there are also some non-motor signs such as cognitive disorders (depression), or transit disorders (constipation, dysphagia), or impaired urination (dysuria, urinary difficulty, etc.).
Parkinson’s disease is one of the most common neurodegenerative diseases and statistics show that there are a million people who suffer from this disease in the U.S. and 5 million worldwide. If this illness were diagnosed early, the chances to control the disease would be much higher and the risk of complications would decrease considerably.
Lead investigator Sok Kean Khoo, PhD, of the Center for Neurodegenerative Genomic Microarray Core Facility Science and at the Van Andel Institute, Grand Rapids, Michigan, said plasma is an amazing resource where you can find biomarkers to identify the disease. Based on this hypothesis, the researchers thought that in plasma of patients with Parkinson’s disease there are specific miRNAs related to PD. In a pilot study conducted on 64 people (half with Parkinson’s disease, half healthy), researchers found nine pairs of PD-predictive classifiers and 13 most-differentially expressed miRNAs as biomarkers that could potentially help identify patients with Parkinson’s disease . Dr Khoo said that although more research must be done, however, this study offers new opportunities to the exploration of circulating miRNAs not only for diagnosis but also for prognosis and therapy of Parkinson’s disease.