Test IDs Parkinson's
"Metabolomic" Profile IDs Parkinson's Disease, May Diagnose and Track Condition
March 14, 2008 -- A "metabolomic" profile of 1,860 molecules in the
blood identifies people with Parkinson's disease.
With further refinement and validation, the technique could become the first
test for Parkinson's disease.
That would be a big boost for doctors, who need a test to diagnose and track
the progression of this neurodegenerative disease.
A definitive test would also help researchers looking for Parkinson's treatments.
Currently, clinical trials of promising treatments are confounded by
uncertainty as to whether all the patients actually have Parkinson's.
"Metabolomics" is the study of molecules thrown off by the body's
many metabolic processes. The idea is that specific diseases cause typical
changes in the body -- and have a unique metabolomic profile, suggests study
researcher M. Flint Beal, MD, chairman and professor of neurology at Weill
Cornell Medical Center.
Using state-of-the-art screening, Beal and colleagues first compared
unmedicated Parkinson's patients to control patients. Then they used the
resulting profile to test 66 Parkinson's patients and 25 control patients.
"We discovered a clear differentiation between the metabolomic profiles
of Parkinson's disease patients versus those of the controls," Beal says in
a news release. "No one molecule was definitive, but a pattern of compounds
emerged that was highly specific to Parkinson's patients."
Beal and colleagues are currently testing patients at different states of
Parkinson's disease to see whether they can discover profiles that would
predict disease worsening. They are also looking at people who carry a gene
that increases a person's risk of Parkinson's disease to see whether, over
time, their metabolomic profile predicts disease onset.
The test isn't yet ready for doctors' offices. It will need to be tested and
validated in a large number of patients.
Beal and colleagues report the findings in the February issue of the journal