Tags: blood | test | detects | Parkinsons | Michael J. Fox

Medical First: Blood Test Detects Parkinson's Disease

Medical First: Blood Test Detects Parkinson's Disease
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By    |   Monday, 16 May 2016 03:30 PM


Bankrolled by TV and movie star Michael J. Fox’s foundation, a major research project is poised to change the lives of people with Parkinson’s disease — and has already yielded its first important breakthrough.

In a major advancement announced this month, an Australian scientific team has developed the first blood test confirming whether a patient has Parkinson’s — a development that can speed treatments that can help slow the condition.

A research team, led by Dr Paul Fisher, a microbiology professor at La Trobe University in Melbourne, has developed the diagnostic blood test enabling accurate detection of abnormal Parkinson’s-causing blood cells. The team is being funded by the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

The researchers noted that at present, by the time many patients develop symptoms large numbers of brain cells have already been destroyed by Parkinson’s. In the absence of a cure, the new test will allow patients to be treated much sooner — before more brain damage occurs.

“It’s a really exciting discovery,” Fisher tells Newsmax Health. “Early diagnosis and treatment enables better outcomes and greater quality of life for people with the condition, which will be of great benefit to sufferers and their families.”

The revolutionary blood test has so far been tested on a small test group of 38 people (29 with Parkinson’s plus a comparison group of nine health individuals). It’s been shown to work.

The research team has been granted $640,000 by the Michael J. Fox Foundation and local partner Shake It Up Australia Foundation to further the work. Fisher says the test needs larger-scale trials and to be to be fine-tuned before becoming generally available within a few years.

“The Michael J. Fox Foundation grant allows us to extend our study,” he adds. “It’s even possible that the blood test could be developed to detect all types of neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s.”

Fisher’s test has decade-old roots. His team previously discovered a permanently switched-on “alarm” in some cells, suspecting this of being responsible for symptoms in incurable conditions, such as Parkinson’s, that involve defective mitochondria (energy-producing entities within cells).

The researchers demonstrated that rogue activity was activated in mitochondrially diseased cells — causing abnormal activity and eventual damage to vital brain cells.

Fisher’s group expects its further work, highlighting differences in blood cells between Parkinson’s patients and healthy control groups, will yield more information about how the disease works and help point the way toward a cure.

According to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, one million Americans live with the debilitating disease, with about 60,000 diagnosed with it each year. What’s more, the foundation also points out these numbers don’t include many cases that go undetected.

Worldwide, estimates suggest as many as 10 million people are living with this cruel condition, which often causes trembling hands, impaired balance, and slurred speech.

America’s highest-profile victim is actor Michael J. Fox.

A twitching finger was the 54 year-old Canadian-born Hollywood celebrity’s first inkling of the disease. Though diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1991, his condition was publicly announced only seven years later.

Semi-retired since 2000, he still does voice-over work and makes cameo on-screen appearances.

Fox launched his Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research to increase awareness and raise funds to find a cure and better treatment options. At present, various drugs are used to treat the condition, but they don’t help all patients. The drugs aim to stop or slow progression of the still-incurable disease.

A degenerative neurological disorder, Parkinson’s affects one in 100 people over age 60, the average age of onset — though it’s been diagnosed in patients as young as 18.

Misdiagnosis rates are relatively high, the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation confirms, in the absence of objective tests and clinical biomarkers.

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Bankrolled by TV and movie star Michael J. Fox's foundation, a major research project is poised to change the lives of people with Parkinson's disease - and has already yielded its first important breakthrough. In a major advancement announced this month, an Australian...
blood, test, detects, Parkinsons, Michael J. Fox
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2016-30-16
Monday, 16 May 2016 03:30 PM
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