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Biomarkers: casting the net wide

DOI: 10.1038/466S11a DOI Help
PMID: 20739930 PMID Help

Authors: Rachel Jones (Freelance writer for Nature)
Co-authored by industrial partner: No

Type: Magazine Article
Magazine: Nature Outlook

State: Published (Approved)
Published: August 2010
Diamond Proposal Number(s): 879

Abstract: To have any hope of affecting the course of Parkinson's disease, early diagnosis is essential. Rachel Jones assesses progress so far. When a patient is diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, they usually have two or three of the cardinal symptoms: resting tremor, rigidity and bradykinesia (slowed movement). By this stage, however, they have probably had the disease for years and up to four-fifths of the dopamine-producing neurons in the substantia nigra have been lost. There is currently no way to reverse this damage, but what if doctors could diagnose Parkinson's disease earlier, before so much harm has been done? The search is on for a biomarker for early Parkinson's disease — a test that can reliably and specifically predict which patients are going to develop the disease while they are still in the early stages (Box 1). Such a biomarker would have several benefits: patients could be warned that they are likely to develop Parkinson's disease; longitudinal studies of these patients could help researchers develop treatments to slow or even halt the progression of the disease; and, if such treatments were to be developed, a reliable biomarker could allow treatment to begin earlier.

Journal Keywords: Parkinson's Disease; Biomarker; Iron

Subject Areas: Medicine, Technique Development

Instruments: I18-Microfocus Spectroscopy