Skin Test May Help Diagnose Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases – A new study shows that skin biopsies can be used to see elevated levels of abnormal proteins that are found in the two diseases.
At present, there are no tests to diagnose Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and symptoms show up years after the disease has progressed. Further, a brain biopsy is needed to confirm diagnosis. Since skin has the same origin as the brain tissue, researchers hypothesized that it might show the same abnormal proteins: tau and alpha-synuclein.
Researchers found that patients with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s had seven times higher levels of the tau protein than healthy participants and those with other kinds of dementia. Those with Parkinson’s also had eight times higher levels of alpha-synuclein protein than healthy participants.
Study author Ildefonso Rodriguez-Leyva, MD, at Central Hospital at the University of San Luis Potosi in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, is hopeful that the skin test can help early and accurate diagnosis of two diseases that affect millions of people worldwide. This will enable doctors to provide treatment in early stages of the disease and prevent irreversible brain damage in their patients. Researchers also hope that the procedure can be used to study other neurodegenerative diseases.
The results of the study will be presented in April 2015, at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) in Washington, DC.