Saliva May Provide Early Test for Parkinson’s disease

parkinsons saliva testMillions of people in the world are living with Parkinson’s disease. A lot of patients are diagnosed every year, but thousands of cases go undetected. Such a situation should change and this might just be possible with a saliva test. This is interesting news especially for general doctors, neurologists, and medical students.

Parkinson’s is a degenerative neurological disorder affecting movement, sleep, walking, balance, blood pressure and smell. There is no cure, but medication can relieve the symptoms. The first and most well-known sign of the disease is often just a small tremor in one hand. Stiffness or slowing of movement may occur, which gradually gets worse. There is no diagnostic test available and diagnosis is based on current medical history, signs and symptoms, a neurological examination, and exclusion of other conditions.

In this new study, researchers analysed biopsies from the submandibular gland tissue under the jaw, with the theory that a specific protein exists in the cells that could indicate early Parkinson’s disease. They compared healthy volunteers to patients who had the disease for less than 5 years. Of the 19 patients, 14 had the protein in the biopsy. Earlier tests showed that the same abnormal protein was detected in 9 out of 12 patients with advanced Parkinson’s disease. Such a procedure will provide much more accurate diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease than what is currently available. However, more research is necessary to optimise the test and expand the understanding of the disease to develop better treatments.

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