28 May 2015
New breakthrough research could make it significantly easier to measure the progression of Parkinson's disease in the brain.
Researchers at the University of Florida (UF) identified a biomarker that shows the progression of the disease in the brain, which could enable better diagnosis and treatment.
The team compared MRI scans of people with Parkinson's to that of a control group who had not been diagnosed with the degenerative disease. They found that substania nigra - an area of the brain - changes as the disease advances.
It is the first time that MRI has been used as the base of a study to measure Parkinson's disease's progression, which is crucial for making the right treatment decision, according to UF applied physiology and kinesiology professor and one of the study's authors David Vaillancour.
Dr Vaillancour said current drug treatments reduce symptoms and cannot slow the disease's progression. However, the new study has provided a tool to test "promising new therapies that could address progression".
As diagnosis is often based on a patient's symptoms and how they respond to medication, it could also help distinguish Parkinson's from similar disorders, which could lead to better clinical trials, he added.
Posted by Phillip Briggs
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