Scientists said Thursday they had found the earliest signs of Parkinson’s disease in the brain years before patients show any symptoms, a discovery that could eventually lead to better screening for at-risk people.
Parkinson’s, a neurodegenerative disorder that causes patients movement and cognitive problems, is estimated to effect up to 10 million people worldwide.
It is diagnosed by a build-up in the brain of a specific protein, a-synuclein, the cause of which is unclear.
However some people are born with a genetic mutation that makes them almost certain to develop the disease at some stage in their life.
Researchers from King’s College London compared data from 14 individuals carrying the mutation with that of 65 non-genetic Parkinson’s patients and 25 healthy volunteers.
They found that changes in the serotonin system in the brains of Parkinson’s sufferers started to malfunction well before other symptoms occurred.
“We found that serotonin function was an excellent marker for how advanced Parkinson’s disease has become,” said Heather Wilson, from the university’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience.
“Therefore, brain imaging of the serotonin system could become a valuable tool to detect individuals at risk of Parkinson’s diseases, monitor their progression and help with the development of new treatments.”
Suspected causes of the disease before the study included levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine, and there is growing evidence of a possible link between Parkinson’s and gut function, though this is poorly understood.
“Picking up on the condition earlier and being able to monitor its progression would aid the discovery of new and better treatments that could slow the loss of brain cells in Parkinson’s,” said Beckie Port, research manager at Parkinson’s UK, who was not involved in the study.
“Further research is needed to fully understand the importance of this discovery, but if it is able to unlock a tool to measure and monitor how Parkinson’s develops, it could change countless lives.”
The research was published in The Lancet Neurology.
MSNBC’s Morning Joe explains the ‘stupid’ reason Trump is cranking up his extremist racist rants
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough believes President Donald Trump's racist attacks on Democratic lawmakers are both a political calculation and an essential element of character.
Sam Stein, senior politics editor for HuffPost, wondered whether Trump was telling the four lawmakers -- all women of color, all American citizens and all but one born in the U.S. -- to go back to their home countries because he was genuinely just racist, and not playing a cynical gambit for racist voters, but the "Morning Joe" host said both could be true.
"I think it can be both," Scarborough said. "I think it can be deeply embedded in his character and at the same time, I think he read Maureen Dowd's (New York Times) column on Sunday morning an said, 'Oh, wait a second, Democrats are fighting each other, let me drive a wedge between the two sides, and I'll attack the four people that Nancy Pelosi is attacking.'"
Trump: a history of inflammatory and ‘racist’ statements
US President Donald Trump drew fresh accusations of racism Monday after he attacked four ethnic-minority Democrats in Congress, telling them to "go back" where they came from.
While Trump denies he is racist, he has a long history of political pandering to white suspicions about other ethnic groups, which many believe helped him win electoral victory in 2016 and which could be important in the election next year.
- Campaign against Obama -
Well before opened his bid for the White House in 2016, Trump targeted the African-American background of Barack Obama, suggesting the Hawaii-born president was really born outside the United States.
As Trump sows discord, Chief of Staff Mulvaney reportedly focused on ‘building empire for the right wing’
"Cabinet members are pressed weekly on what regulations they can strip from the books and have been told their performance will be judged on how many they remove."
While President Donald Trump dominates national media with racist tweets and lies, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney is quietly "building an empire for the right wing" and pushing Cabinet members to impose a radical and rapid deregulation agenda across the federal government, according to a new Washington Post report.