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Blood Test May Predict Parkinson’s Years Before Symptoms

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A new blood test might be able to identify Parkinson’s disease years before symptoms show up, according to new research completed at University College London and University Medical Center Gottingen’s study was published toin the journal Nature Communications. 

In it, researchers described how they developed a blood test that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to detect Parkinson’s disease about seven years before onset. 

They analyzed blood samples from 72 study participants with Rapid Eye Movement Behavior Disorder (iRBD). People with this disorder physically act out their dreams without knowing they are doing so. About 75% to 80% of people with iRBD will develop a synucleinopathy – a brain disorder caused by the abnormal buildup of a protein called alpha-synuclein. The scientists used a machine-learning tool and identified 79% of the people with iRBD as having the same profile as someone with Parkinson’s disease. The AI program analyzed eight blood-based biomarkers altered in people with Parkinson’s. 

The research team said they correctly predicted that 16 people in the study would go on to develop Parkinson’s. They were able to do so seven years before the onset of symptoms. The scientists continued to follow up with the 16 people identified with Parkinson’s to verify the accuracy of the test further. The development of a biomarker test for early detection of Parkinson’s disease is a potentially transformative advancement. Doctors say that by determining eight proteins in the blood, they can identify potential Parkinson’s patients several years in advance. 

This means that drug therapies could potentially be given at an earlier stage, which could possibly slow down disease progression or even prevent it from occurring. 

They have not only developed a test but can diagnose the disease based on markers that are directly linked to processes such as inflammation and degradation of non-functional proteins. So, these markers represent possible targets for new drug treatments. If the test described in the study, which identifies specific biomarkers predicting Parkinson’s disease up to seven years before symptom onset, is successful, it would indeed be a game-changer for several reasons. It will allow proactive intervention.

Early identification, intervention, and treatment would improve the quality of life. Specific biomarkers would also allow tailored treatments and disease monitoring.Testing could be more easily accessible, and widespread testing could be performed. This would lead to health cost savings.The success of such a biomarker test would indeed be transformative in the field of Parkinson’s disease. It would shift the paradigm from reactive treatment to proactive management, allowing for earlier and more personalized interventions.

This would not only improve the quality of life for patients but also advance research and potentially lead to significant healthcare cost savings. The combination of early diagnosis, targeted treatments, and better understanding of disease mechanisms could herald a new era in the management and treatment of Parkinson’s disease. 

Identifying people at high risk for Parkinson’s may be extremely helpful in the future when we may have drugs or other treatments that may delay or prevent the onset of the disease.At the moment, however,there is not any effective treatment for people whom we recognize may be at risk for Parkinson’s and an early prediction will not lead to any practical treatment or specific recommendation other than maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle. While the testing may not have immediate clinical relevance now, these tools may become a key strategy in the future. 

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