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August 24, 2016

An eye test to discover Parkinson’s?

Researchers probably have found a way to recognize Parkinson via changes in the eye before the symptoms are visible. Scientists at the University College London (UCL) say that the tests they performed on animals might lead to an inexpensive and invasive way to detect the disease at an early stage.

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Earlier intervention possible

The researchers have investigated rats and found that changes take place at the back of the eye before the recognizable symptoms of the disease are shown. "It is a potentially revolutionary breakthrough in the early diagnosis and treatment of one of the world’s most debilitating diseases, said Professor Francesca Cordeiro, who led the research. "These tests mean that we should be able to intervene much earlier and more effective in the treatment of people with this terrible disease."

One in 500 people has Parkinson’s and it’s thus the second most common neurodegenerative disease worldwide. So far, we only see symptoms after brain damage has occurred, but there is no brain scan or blood test to diagnose Parkinson’s.

Urgently needed

Dr. Arthur Roach, director of the charity’s Parkingson’s UK calls it "a significant step". "There is an urgent need for a simple, accurate way to detect the disease, especially in an early stage. Although research is still in its infancy and has yet to be tested on people with Parkinson’s, a simple non-invasive test – such as an eye test – would be a major step forward in the search for treatments that address the underlying causes of the condition instead of masking the symptoms ", he added.

Dr. Roach also pointed out that they are funding parallel investigations, to find biomarkers, measurable changes in people with the condition. "A biomarker for Parkinson helps early diagnosis so that people can quickly benefit from new treatments to delay the process”, he explained.

The researchers also found out that the animals after treatment with an anti-diabetic agent showed less cell damage than before. They would like to start testing people with this finding as soon as possible. The research is published in Acta Neuropathologica Communications.

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