Biomarkers for Parkinson's Disease

A study lead by Hugo Vicente Miranda and Tiago Fleming Outeiro, from Cell and Molecular Neuroscience Lab in collaboration with Prof. Joaquim Ferreira unit at Instituto de Medicina Molecular, was recently published in the prestigious Scientific Reports, reporting on the identification of novel blood biochemical markers, that show high potential to diagnose Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease worldwide. Currently, the diagnosis is performed by specialized neurologists. They analyse the presence of several motor and cognitive features by performing given enquiries, by physically examining the motor skills, and by evaluating the patients’ response to the available treatments. No objective diagnostic tools are available to monitor disease progression or to allow the evaluation of future therapeutic strategies.

For this study, a significant number of participants were recruited, including Parkinson’s disease patients and healthy individuals. Through a blood test, the researchers identified chemical modifications in alpha-synuclein, a key protein in the disease, that are specifically altered in Parkinson’s disease. These have high diagnostic/prognostic potential.
In particular, the researchers identified that alpha-synuclein is chemically modified, and that these modifications could be directly measured in the blood. Since they correlate with the disease severity and duration, these could be used as biomarkers.

Hugo Vicente Miranda explains that - “This discovery will allow to track disease progression and evaluate the efficacy of future treatments. This will be vital for the development of novel therapeutically approaches for this disease”. “Our study might revolutionize the way we monitor the disease and may facilitate the development of blood markers for Parkinson’s disease” – says Tiago Outeiro.

This study provides significant advances in the discovery of novel Parkinson’s disease biomarkers that could translate into new tools to diagnose and monitor the disease. The development of an objective and minimally invasive procedure will meliorate the clinical practice, ultimately improving the patients’ well-being.

Press Release in Portuguese here.

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