Parkinson's disease, a condition that is difficult to diagnose at least in its early stages, may one day be "detected" by a simple blood test: that's the hope rekindled by a study just published in Science Translational Medicine, writes focus.it.
Based on the analysis, which will be confirmed by further clinical analysis, it is possible to identify the genetic damage of the mitochondria (energy centers of the cells) associated with this disease in the blood.
Parkinson's is a neurodegenerative disease that occurs when the death of certain populations of neurons in the brain causes a drop in dopamine, an important neurotransmitter.
Over time, patients develop tremors, muscle stiffness, slowness of movement, balance instability, as well as problems performing actions, formulating abstract thoughts and language, and changes in behavior and mood.
Past studies have shown that Parkinson's patients often have a dysfunction of mitochondria, the organelles with their own DNA that provide energy to cells.
Laboratories have developed a test that can quantify genetic damage to the mitochondria in a blood sample. The analysis allowed groups of up to 50 people with Parkinson's to be correctly identified in databases that also contained values from healthy people.
Not only that: the test also "noticed" that the amount of damaged mitochondrial DNA was higher in the blood of a Parkinson's patient who carried a rare mutation (LRRK2) that increases the risk of developing it pathology.