A skin test may help diagnose Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases earlier by detecting potential biomarkers, new research has shown. Findings from this study will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 67th Annual Meeting in Washington, DC.

In the study, researchers compared skin biopsies from 20 patients with Alzheimer’s disease, 16 with Parkinson’s disease, and 17 with dementia caused by other conditions with 12 healthy people in the same age group. Skin samples were tested for specific types of abnormal proteins that are indicative of Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s diseases.

RELATED: Blood Test Could Help Detect Parkinson’s Disease

Patients with both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases were found to have seven times more of the tau protein vs. healthy patients and those with dementia caused by other conditions. Patients with Parkinson’s disease had eight times more of alpha-synuclein protein vs. the healthy control group.

Scientists concluded that this test could be used to study other degenerative diseases in addition to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, although further research is needed to confirm these initial findings.

For more information visit AAN.com.