Researchers from Mayo Clinic Arizona and Banner Sun Health Research Institute are working together on a diagnostic test to identify early Parkinson's disease in patients thanks to a $152,486 grant from The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research. Currently, there is no accurate diagnostic test for early Parkinson's.
The researchers believe a procedure termed transcutaneous submandibular gland biopsy may provide the needed accuracy. The test involves inserting a needle into the submandibular gland, located under the jaw, and then withdrawing the needle to obtain the core of gland tissue within. The researchers will look for a protein in the cells from patients who have early Parkinson's and compare this to subjects without the disease. The researchers previously found the protein in patients with advanced Parkinson's and now are studying those with early Parkinson's. The study requires participants be 18 to 85 years old and have had Parkinson's for less than five years.
"We're hoping our biopsy will be 80% to 90% accurate in these early-stage patients, just like it was for the later-stage patients," said Beach. "This study is critical because we can then try to stop Parkinson's in its early stage." The procedure also may be useful in guiding the selection of patients for experimental therapies.
"There is currently no diagnostic test for Parkinson's disease," said Adler. "We have previously shown in some patients with advanced Parkinson's, as well as in autopsies of Parkinson's patients, that the abnormal proteins associated with Parkinson's are consistently found in the submandibular saliva glands, found under the lower jaw. Making a diagnosis in living patients will be a big step forward in our effort to understand and better treat patients."