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Early diagnosis of Parkinson's disease comes within grasp

The scientists Dr. Kathrin Doppler and Prof. Claudia Sommer from Würzburg and Prof. Wolfgang Oertel from Marburg have made an important breakthrough. They have developed a method by which alpha synuclein can be identified in the skin, years before Parkinson’s symptoms become apparent in the patient. The dream of an early-identifiable “bio-marker” and thus early diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease is thus within grasp.

A minimal invasive skin biopsy is carried out for investigation, in which a sample of just 5mm is taken. These samples are then investigated for deposits of alpha synuclein using the so-called double immunofluorescence colouring. If alpha synuclein is present, this indicates with relatively high certainty on the basis of studies to date that the subject will develop Parkinson’s disease in future.

The benefit of early identification like this is that therapies can be started much earlier, e.g. with the Drugs / vaccinations  under development against alpha synuclein deposits. In the ideal case, this could mean that the disease can be identified for example in routine tests before it becomes visible and can be prevented with appropriate drugs or processes.

Furthermore, researchers can observe the course of the disease from a much earlier point so that they can possibly get a better understanding of the causes of the disease and other approached to stopping its progress or even curing its causes can be found.

The results of Doppler, Sommer and Oertl are a great step forward in scientific research into bio-markers / early recognition of Parkinson’s disease. Normally, other researchers must now apply these methods more widely to improve, confirm or (in the less favourable case) reject the chosen procedure and the possible results.