Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

First Early-detection Blood Test For Parkinson's Shows Promise

Date:
March 12, 2008
Source:
Weill Cornell Medical College
Summary:
A test that profiles molecular biomarkers in blood could become the first accurate diagnostic test for Parkinson's disease, new research shows. The screen relies on changes in dozens of small molecules in serum. These "metabolomic" alterations form a unique pattern in people with Parkinson's disease.

A test that profiles molecular biomarkers in blood could become the first accurate diagnostic test for Parkinson's disease, new research shows.

Related Articles


The screen relies on changes in dozens of small molecules in serum. These "metabolomic" alterations form a unique pattern in people with Parkinson's disease, according to a team led by researchers at the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.

"A reliable blood test for Parkinson's disease would revolutionize not only the care of people with this debilitating illness, it would facilitate research as well," notes study senior author Dr. M. Flint Beal, chairman and Anne Parrish Titzell Professor of Neurology at Weill Cornell Medical College, and neurologist-in-chief at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

According to the National Parkinson Foundation, an estimated 1.5 million Americans have the neurodegenerative disease, and 60,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. Actor Michael J. Fox, boxer Muhammad Ali, and former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno all suffer from Parkinson's, which strikes men and women in roughly equal numbers.

"Right now, a Parkinson's diagnosis is made solely on a clinical review of symptoms — we have no biologic test," notes Dr. Beal. At best, a symptom-based screen is still only 90 percent accurate, he adds.

"That can cause real problems, because that remaining 10 percent of patients — who may have look-alike conditions such as multi-system atrophy or progressive supranuclear palsy — end up getting treated with Parkinson's drugs," Dr. Beal says. "These medicines may appear to help them a little while, but in the meantime, they haven't been getting the treatment that's necessarily best for them."

An early-detection test would also be enormously useful in tracking the health of patients who may be at higher risk for Parkinson's, such as those with a family history of the disease.

Finally, the integrity of clinical trials is undermined by the lack of an accurate screen, Dr. Beal notes. "Every time you do a clinical trial into Parkinson's and you have patients that are misdiagnosed, it enters 'noise' into the analysis, skewing the results. A truly reliable test could help eliminate that," the researcher notes.

That's why encouraging results for the new test — based on a patient's "metabolomic profile" — are so important.

Metabolomics is the study of changes in thousands of distinct, very small molecules found in body fluids or tissues. "Anytime you have a genetic or environmental perturbation, these molecules are altered in specific ways," Dr. Beal explains.

Because Parkinson's treatment could itself trigger some of these alterations, the researchers first compared metabolomic patterns in the blood of Parkinson's patients who were not undergoing treatment versus those who were medicated. "That gave us a 'medication-free' profile that we could use going forward," Dr. Beal explains.

In the next stage of the research, the team compared blood samples from 66 patients with Parkinson's disease against 25 healthy controls (most of whom were the patients' spouses). The metabolomic analysis included over 2,000 small molecules found in the blood.

"We discovered a clear differentiation between the metabolomic profiles of the Parkinson's disease patients versus those of the controls," Dr. Beal says. "No one molecule was definitive, but a pattern of about 160 compounds emerged that was highly specific to Parkinson's patients."

The significance of many individual compounds to the disease remains unknown and will be the focus of future study. But changes in a few well-known metabolites linked to oxidative stress were clearly linked to Parkinson's. These included low levels of the antioxidant uric acid; an increase in blood levels of another antioxidant, glutathione; and increased levels of a marker for oxidative damage called 8-OHdG.

"Together, these and other compounds were arranged into a metabolomic pattern that identified Parkinson's disease with great accuracy," Dr. Beal says.

He stressed that more work needs to be done to validate the finding, and a test that might be used routinely by doctors is still a few years away.

"We are currently enlarging the sample size and studying people at serial intervals, to see if this test might also serve as a benchmark for disease progression," Dr. Beal says. "We are also looking at people who carry a gene for a familial form of Parkinson's, but who do not have the illness now. We hope to track them over time to see if this metabolomic profile is predictive of disease onset."

If those data prove as promising as this early trial, an early-detection blood test for Parkinson's disease could someday become a reality. According to Dr. Beal, "That would be a big step forward for both the treatment and the study of this devastating illness."

Findings are published in the journal Brain. Co-researchers include lead researcher Dr. Mikhail Bogdanov, of Weill Cornell Medical College and Bedford VA Medical Center, Bedford, Mass.; Dr. Wayne R. Matson, of Bedford VA Medical Center; Dr. Lei Wang, of Weill Cornell and Bedford VA Medical Center; and Dr. Rachel Saunders-Pullman and Dr. Susan S. Bressman, of Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York City.

This work was supported by the Michael J. Fox Foundation, the Department of Defense, and Edwin and Carolyne Levy.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Weill Cornell Medical College. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Weill Cornell Medical College. "First Early-detection Blood Test For Parkinson's Shows Promise." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 March 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080311163624.htm>.
Weill Cornell Medical College. (2008, March 12). First Early-detection Blood Test For Parkinson's Shows Promise. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080311163624.htm
Weill Cornell Medical College. "First Early-detection Blood Test For Parkinson's Shows Promise." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080311163624.htm (accessed March 31, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Solitair Device Aims to Takes Guesswork out of Sun Safety

Solitair Device Aims to Takes Guesswork out of Sun Safety

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 31, 2015) — The Solitair device aims to take the confusion out of how much sunlight we should expose our skin to. Small enough to be worn as a tie or hair clip, it monitors the user&apos;s sun exposure by taking into account their skin pigment, location and schedule. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Soda, Salt and Sugar: The Next Generation of Taxes

Soda, Salt and Sugar: The Next Generation of Taxes

Washington Post (Mar. 30, 2015) — Denisa Livingston, a health advocate for the Dinι Community Advocacy Alliance, and the Post&apos;s Abby Phillip discuss efforts around the country to make unhealthy food choices hurt your wallet as much as your waistline. Video provided by Washington Post
Powered by NewsLook.com
UnitedHealth Buys Catamaran

UnitedHealth Buys Catamaran

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 30, 2015) — The $12.8 billion merger will combine the U.S.&apos; third and fourth largest pharmacy benefit managers. Analysts say smaller PBMs could also merge. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

AFP (Mar. 28, 2015) — Sierra Leone imposed a three-day nationwide lockdown Friday for the second time in six months in a bid to prevent a resurgence of the deadly Ebola virus. Duration: 01:17 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins