New Test Identifies Parkinson’s Before Symptoms Develop

Currently, more than 10 million individuals are affected by Parkinson’s disease around the world. This degenerative condition affects an individual’s nervous system and damages parts of the brain that control movement, causing involuntary shaking and stiff muscles as well as balance problems.

In addition to this, the disease also affects a patient’s mental health, causing anxiety and depression, insomnia and memory issues.

With the disease’s prevalence, there is an urgent need to develop better preventative strategies and treatments. This has proven difficult, particularly given researchers’ inability to identify individuals at risk of the illness while its in the early stages. By the time an individual is diagnosed with the disease, they have lost more than 60% of the cells that produce dopamine in the substantia nigra. This is the part of the brain that plays a significant role in modulating reward functions and motor movement.

Now, scientists have identified blood markers that may help show the presence of Parkinson’s disease up to seven years before symptoms begin presenting in patients.

Jenny Hällqvist, a biochemist from University College London, along with her colleagues utilized machine-learning models to find eight proteins in the blood that change as Parkinson’s progresses. The scientists began by comparing blood obtained from 99 patients who had recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, 26 individuals from the control group, and 72 patients who suffered from REM sleep behavior disorder.

Once this was done, they used a machine-learning model to narrow their findings to the most reliable blood markers. This allowed the scientists to forecast which individuals with REM sleep behavior disorders were more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease well before they began presenting with symptoms.

The biomarkers identified include proteins involved in cell development, biochemical pathways, blood clotting and inflammation. The scientists observed that some of them increased along with decreased cognitive performance and symptom severity.

Prior research has also demonstrated that a well-known protein observed in Parkinson’s patients, misfolded α-synuclein protein, stresses the endoplasmic reticulum. Two of the biomarkers, HSPA1L and HSPA5, also signal this organ to produce proteins when an individual is in a stressed condition.

In their conclusion, the scientists explained that the use of machine-learning models and these biomarkers allowed them to distinguish between early Parkinson’s disease from healthy controls.

If findings from this research can be replicated in bigger populations, a more effective blood test could be developed to identify individuals at risk. The scientists’ findings were reported in “Nature Communications.”

Hopefully, the early detection of Parkinson’s disease will increase the likelihood of therapeutics from companies such as Clene Inc. (NASDAQ: CLNN) delivering timely interventions to halt or even roll back this condition in its initial stages.

NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Clene Inc. (NASDAQ: CLNN) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://ibn.fm/CLNN

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