At the moment, doctors can only diagnose Parkinson’s disease after symptoms occur. That’s a problem considering the damage has already been done by the time symptoms show up.
But there is good news: University of Pennsylvania scientists have discovered a new way to identify alpha-synuclein, the hallmark protein of Parkinson’s. By uncovering a technique for identifying these proteins within the body, it could allow scientists to diagnose Parkinson’s before symptoms arise.
In the study, scientists used an imaging technique called Positron emission tomography (PET) to see inside the body. PET works by using radioactive molecules as tracers for imaging different tissues. After years of working with the technique and testing nearly 7 million potential compounds that could indicate alpha-synuclein, the researchers have found two that have a high binding rate to the protein.
With this knowledge, scientists could design ways to diagnose Parkinson’s in patients before symptoms occur. Additionally, the new process could also allow them to quickly design and discover molecules for other neurodegenerative disorders, too.