Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Parkinson's Disease Health Center

Font Size

Test IDs Parkinson's

"Metabolomic" Profile IDs Parkinson's Disease, May Diagnose and Track Condition
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

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 Brain.

Today on WebMD

Parkinsons disease illustration
Causes, symptoms, and treatments.
hands on walker
How does the disease progress?
man with serious expression
8 common questions and answers.
intelligence quotient illustration
What are the advantages of DBS?
Parkinsons Disease Medications
Questions Doctor Parkinsons
Eating Right
Parkinsons Exercise
daughter consoling depressed mother
senior man's hands
Parkinsons Daily