blood test

In a major advancement announced this month, an Australian scientific team has developed the first blood test confirming whether a patient has Parkinson’s — a development that can speed treatments that can help slow the condition.

A research team, led by Dr Paul Fisher, a microbiology professor at La Trobe University in Melbourne, has developed the diagnostic blood test enabling accurate detection of abnormal Parkinson’s-causing blood cells. The team is being funded by the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

The researchers noted that at present, by the time many patients develop symptoms large numbers of brain cells have already been destroyed by Parkinson’s. In the absence of a cure, the new test will allow patients to be treated much sooner — before more brain damage occurs.

“It’s even possible that the blood test could be developed to detect all types of neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s.”

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18 Replies

  • Great. Unfortunately the new test serves little purpose for any of us... we already know.

  • ..... The test serves little purpose for any of us .... Maybe but a comment about the potential implications of this research from one far more knowledgable than I.

    "A blood test for Parkinson’s would be a big story any day. But this one goes further. We now have significant insights into the cause and role of oxidative stress in the condition that we probably didn’t expect to find. And of course, we now have a target. And drug companies love targets!

    Of course there are all the usual caveats. You will not be able to buy this in your local chemists tomorrow. It needs a whole bunch of further development. But don’t let me be downbeat. This is a cause for excitement."

  • Hikoi, If the new test to confirm your PD and the allusions of "one more knowledgeable than [you]" to "significant insights into the cause and role of oxidative stress" provides you with "cause for excitement", I certainly don't want to be the one to rain on any parades in progress.

    The developer's "excitement" might be easier to share, however, if they would share with the rest of the world exactly what these new(?) "significant insights" are i.e. beyond the numerous studies already exposing the role of oxidative stress in the various neurodegenerative diseases (plug the term into a PubMed search and spend the next few weeks sifting through the data).

    Even more "cause for excitement" than incessant revelations of more "significant insights" would be in order if researchers finally turn them into 'significant solutions' of the problem at hand...

  • W a mole

    I do know oxidative stress has been implicated in PD but not the details and you may well be correct and this is same old news.

    The report I saw included the comment that the discovery turned conventional understanding about Parkinson’s on its head ... It went on to say that It has been widely believed that a toxic buildup of byproducts that cause damage to brain cells and Parkinson’s disease were due to a defect in the cell’s mitochondria, where energy metabolism occurs. But Fisher and his team found through their blood tests that there was no damage to the mitochondria of patients with Parkinson’s disease.....

    I left it to Dr Jon Stamford to confirm or deny whether this was actually significant or just more media hype. Why? because it's his area of expertise, he is a neuroscientist who spent many years in Parkinsons research before developing it himself.

    It isn't giving us the soln to the problem in hand, I guess that means cure, if so then I agree. But that's another discussion.

    Meantime I feel positive about the news of a potential diagnostic test and maybe it will also become a way of monitoring treatments, which work and how individuals are responding to treatment.

  • I cannot see this working , unless every male/ female was blood tested as a matter of routine ..

    As someone already remarked it's usually to late to do anything but try to control the condition, once correctly diagnosed, by that time brain cells have already depleted..

    Plus we all know PD affects everyone differently..


  • Good points.

  • Yay!

  • I didn't think there were any meds that prevent the PD profession?

  • So this 'early diagnosis is great because it allows treatment to start that can slow the progression' idea. What treatment??

    I didn't think there was anything - other than perhaps Rasagiline which is thought to maybe slow the progress but is unproven in that regard.

    If there is something I'm missing I'd really like to know!

  • Exactly ..

  • Also - what's the big deal: doesn't a DaT scan give a fairly definite dx when used to follow up a symptom based initial dx?

  • That is if you live in a country that has DAT scans available and if you do that you can access them, cost $US 2500 to $US 5000.

    From the US National PD site:

    "One of the most frequently asked questions about Parkinson’s disease on NPF’s “Ask the Doctor” web-based forum is whether or not to pursue DaT to confirm a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. The short answer is that the DaT test is over-used in clinical practice, and is only FDA approved to distinguish potential Parkinson’s disease from essential tremor. In fact, the test only tells the clinician if there is an abnormality in the dopamine transporter, and does not actually diagnose Parkinson’s disease"

    The blood test would be simpler cheaper and accurate.

  • you answered a prayer that I had yesterday. I literally was saying i wish there was a test to know if a person really has PD or not. Thank you so much RoyProp for the post.

  • Something like 25 or 50pc are misdiagnosed. Not until 5 years is dx assured.

  • If this blood test proves to be accurate then this break is HUGE ! The availabity of a bio-marker (and an early one) will revolutionize PD research.

  • Your posts are very informative and useful. Thanks, RoyPop. To medicate or not to medicate, I have opted to hold off after 2 +/years. But I am taking five mg of Selegilin, once a day in wild hope it slows progression.

  • Racer

    That's a tricky one, how can we know if a drug slows progression or not. With this news it's possible now that A blood test might be developed to help in monitoring that.

    Has Selegiline been shown to slow progression as it has been used for Parkinsons 40 yrs, since 1975.. I'm on it too so It would be nice to think so but .......

  • Hikoi, the whole issue of progression is one of those areas about which there is little research or information. The idea that Parkinson's is different for every person let's the so called experts off the hook. There is a British study published some twenty years ago which tried to deal with this issue without coming up with any definitive results. I have been diagnosed two and a half years ago, I have no idea what to expect. All I can do is try to protect whatever functions exist now with the knowledge that exists now or even the rumors.

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