AI blood test could detect Parkinson’s disease

June 26, 2024

(NewsNation) — Researchers have developed a new blood test that can predict Parkinson’s disease up to seven years before symptoms appear. 

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative movement disorder that can cause symptoms such as tremors or speech changes. It is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder that is estimated to affect about one million Americans

Researchers from University College London and University Medical Center Göttingen in Germany developed the new AI-powered blood test.

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Published in the research journal Nature Communications, the study focused on 72 patients with rapid eye movement behavior disorder, which has been linked to a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s. 

The research applied machine learning techniques to analyze blood samples and found that 79% of the participants exhibited the same biomarkers commonly found in those with Parkinson’s disease. After a decadelong follow-up period, 16 of the patients eventually developed Parkinson’s disease. 

Researchers used plasma proteomics, the study of proteins in the liquid part of blood called plasma, to identify the biomarkers. 

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Co-first author Michael Bartl said in a news release that by identifying Parkinson’s disease earlier, the progression can be slowed or even prevented. 

“By determining eight proteins in the blood, we could identify potential Parkinson’s patients several years in advance. Drug therapies could be given at an earlier stage,” Bartl said in the release.

David Dexter, director of research at Parkinson’s UK, said in a statement that this research is a major step forward in the search for a more patient-friendly diagnostic test for the disease. 

“Finding biological markers that can be identified and measured in the blood is less invasive than a lumbar puncture which is being used more and more in clinical research to trial new treatments in people with Parkinson’s,” Dexter said.