(HealthDay News) — Researchers have developed a blood test that they say could help neurologists detect Parkinson’s disease and track the illness as it progresses. The study was published online Feb. 2 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The researchers say they’ve found two genetic markers that are 90 percent effective at indicating the presence of Parkinson’s disease. The markers are related to how the body processes glucose and insulin, study lead author Jose Santiago, a research associate at the Chicago Medical School, told HealthDay.
The team tracked 101 people with Parkinson’s and 91 healthy people. They found that gene expression changed significantly over three years in the Parkinson’s patients. It’s not clear whether Parkinson’s causes changes in the genes or if the genes actually contribute to the development of Parkinson’s, the researchers said. Both genes are associated with diabetes, and scientists suspect there may be a link between the two diseases.
More research is needed to confirm that the test works, and the researchers would like to make it more accurate. Also, it’s not clear how much the test might ultimately cost. “If successful, we expect our findings will translate into a valuable diagnostic tool for Parkinson’s disease,” study coauthor Judith Potashkin, Ph.D., professor of cellular and molecular pharmacology at the Chicago Medical School, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, told HealthDay.