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AI based blood test can predict Parkinson’s seven years before symptoms, finds study – ET HealthWorld


New Delhi: The findings of a new study have brought good news to a field of medical science that can benefit 10 million people around the world. We are talking about Parkinson’s diseasethe fastest growing in the world neurodegenerative disorder.

The study has been published in Nature Communications.

A team of researchers, led by scientists from University College London (UCL) and the University Medical Center Goettingen, Germany, has developed a simple method blood test which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to predict Parkinson’s up to seven years before symptoms appear.

“Currently, people with Parkinson’s are treated with dopamine replacement therapy after they have already developed symptoms, such as tremors, slowness of movement and walking, and memory problems. But researchers believe that early prediction and diagnosis “would be valuable in finding treatments that could slow or stop Parkinson’s by protecting dopamine-producing brain cells,” UCL said in a press release.

To determine Parkinson’s disease, researchers found that when a branch of AI called machine learning analyzed a panel of eight blood biomarkers whose concentrations are altered in Parkinson’s patients, it could provide a diagnosis with 100% accuracy.

For this, 72 patients suffering from rapid eye movement behavior disorder (iRBD) were studied. Between 75% and 80% of these people with iRBD develop synucleinopathy (a type of brain disorder caused by the abnormal buildup of a protein called alpha-synuclein in brain cells), including Parkinson’s. “When the machine learning tool analyzed the blood of these patients, it identified that 79% of the iRBD patients had the same profile as someone with Parkinson’s,” the researchers said.

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Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that primarily affects movement control. It occurs due to the degeneration of dopamine-producing neurons in the substantia nigra, a region of the brain crucial for regulating movement. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that facilitates smooth, coordinated muscle movements. As these neurons deteriorate, dopamine levels decrease, causing the characteristic motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

The main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include tremors, rigidity, bradykinesia (slowness of movement), and postural instability. Non-motor symptoms may also occur, such as cognitive impairment, mood disorders, sleep disturbances, and autonomic dysfunction. The progression and severity of symptoms varies between individuals.

Age is a major risk factor, with most cases occurring after age 60, although early-onset Parkinson’s can occur in younger people.

Currently, there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease. Treatment focuses on controlling symptoms, primarily through medications that increase dopamine levels or mimic its action, such as levodopa. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, and lifestyle changes can also help control symptoms. Advanced treatments, including deep brain stimulation, are available for certain patients. Research continues to search for better treatments and possible cures for this debilitating disease.

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  • Updated On Jun 19, 2024 at 07:23 AM IST
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  • Posted on Jun 19, 2024 at 06:01 am IST
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  • 2 min read
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