Researchers at the Technion- Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa have
identified a group of five genes in the blood that can predict whether an
individual will in future develop the severe and ultimately fatal neurological
condition Parkinson’s disease.
The scientists, headed by Dr. Silvia
Mandel from the Rappaport Medical Faculty, published their findings in the
journal Molecular Neurodegeneration and included colleagues in Israel, Germany
At present, there isn’t a single blood test to screen for or
diagnose Parkinson’s. This makes it difficult to identify people at risk for or
at an early stage of the disease.
“Finding biological signs – or
biomarkers – for Parkinson’s can help diagnose it in the early stages, even
before symptoms appear and monitor the effects of treatments that protect the
brain,” said Mandel, who works at the Technion’s Center for Neurodegenerative
Disease. “The initial aim was to determine whether among patients in the early
stage a biological signature can be found to support its diagnosis.”
used blood samples from 62 patients at the beginning of their disease and a
control group of 64 healthy people. Choice of the genes was based on previous
research by Mandel and Technion Prof. Moussa Youdim.
Genetic data from 30
patients in advanced stages of the disease were used to confirm the five genes
as being predictive at 100 percent accuracy.
The model also fully
differentiated between Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease victims.
biomarker will help diagnose individuals in the pre-symptom stage of the disease
who suffer from depression, sleep disorders, hyposmia – the reduced ability to
smell and to detect odors – or people who carry genetic risk factors. These are
good candidates for prospective treatment neurological treatment, they
The biomarker would be valuable in clinical studies for identifying
the sub-population of Parkinson’s patients who would react positively to
treatments aimed at molecular mechanisms to which the gene group
All five genes are part of the ubiquitin-proteasome system whose
involvement in the pathology of Parkinson’s disease has already been
The Haifa researchers believe that in the future it will be
possible to integrate a blood test with brain scanning and/or biomarkers in the
spinal fluid or other tissues as the gold standard not only for early diagnosis
but also for differentiation between Parkinson’s and other similar motor
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