We’re One Step Closer To Identifying Parkinson’s Disease

Researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia have devised a diagnostic tool for identifying Parkinson’s disease (PD) in patients who may not yet display any motor symptoms. The importance of such a tool lies in the fact that by the time motor symptoms appear, there is usually already irreversible damage to brain tissues. Dinesh Kumar, PhD, the chief investigator on the study, says “many treatment options for Parkinson’s only prove effective when the disease was diagnosed early.

The team at RMIT built custom software that analyzes a patient’s spiral-drawing style via pen, paper, and a digital drawing tablet. Although the team admits to some limitations within their initial studies, the 93% accuracy rate of early PD diagnosis is spurring additional research and hope for achieving a reliable diagnostic method for identifying PD early.

We’ve come a long way to identifying Parkinson’s disease. Earlier this year, researchers have developed an instrument that can identify seventeen diseases, including Parkinson’s.

A new instrument has recently been developed to diagnose disease in a non-invasive, cost effective manner. Based on the idea of the breathalyzers used to identify and quantify alcohol consumption, this device would allow for specific programmable disease detection in still healthy individuals. Volatile organic compounds are chemicals that are expressed by the body when pathologic processes occur.

Currently, seventeen diseases can be identified with breath analysis with an accuracy of eighty-six percent. Researchers were able to program the device to detect normal chemicals present in saliva as well so that if a significant variation is present, a red flag is sent up indicating that there is a maladaptive process occurring. This device could be a significant advance with improved accuracy recordings, as detection of cancer and various other diseases require invasive, often painful exams for diagnosis.

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