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Breakthrough measures Parkinson's progression in brain

Date:
May 26, 2015
Source:
University of Florida
Summary:
A biomarker that shows the progression of Parkinson's disease in the brain has been identified by researchers, opening the door to better diagnosis and treatment of the degenerative disease.
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University of Florida researchers have identified a biomarker that shows the progression of Parkinson's disease in the brain, opening the door to better diagnosis and treatment of the degenerative disease.

By comparing brain images of Parkinson's patients to those of a control group over a year, an interdisciplinary team found that an area of the brain called the substania nigra changes as the disease advances. The findings provide the first MRI-based method to measure the disease's progression, which can inform treatment decisions and aid in identifying new therapies, said UF applied physiology and kinesiology professor David Vaillancourt, Ph.D., one of the study's authors.

"The Parkinson's drugs available today help reduce symptoms. They don't slow the progression of the disease, which is the major unmet medical need," Vaillancourt said. "We've provided a tool to test promising new therapies that could address progression."

The substania nigra of a Parkinson's patient has more "free water" -- fluid unconstrained by brain tissue, likely because of disease-related degeneration. The new study published in the journal Brain uses diffusion imaging, a type of MRI, to show that free-water levels increase as the disease progresses. The free-water level was also a good predictor of how bradykinesia -- the slowness of movement common to Parkinson's -- advanced over the course of the subsequent year.

Because doctors typically diagnose the disease by evaluating patients' symptoms and how they respond to medication, the indicator could also be useful to distinguish Parkinson's from similar disorders. That could lead to better clinical trials, Vaillancourt said.


Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Florida. Original written by Alisson Clark. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. E. Ofori, O. Pasternak, P. J. Planetta, H. Li, R. G. Burciu, A. F. Snyder, S. Lai, M. S. Okun, D. E. Vaillancourt. Longitudinal changes in free-water within the substantia nigra of Parkinson's disease. Brain, 2015; DOI: 10.1093/brain/awv136

Cite This Page:

University of Florida. "Breakthrough measures Parkinson's progression in brain." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 May 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150526155722.htm>.
University of Florida. (2015, May 26). Breakthrough measures Parkinson's progression in brain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 23, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150526155722.htm
University of Florida. "Breakthrough measures Parkinson's progression in brain." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150526155722.htm (accessed May 23, 2017).

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