One of the biggest challenges posed by Parkinson’s disease is that there’s no surefire test to diagnose the condition. However, new research suggests that looking at a patient’s salivary glands could offer some insight into whether he or she has the disease earlier than ever before.
The study was led by researchers from the Mayo Clinic Arizona and was focused on the salivary glands of 15 people with Parkinson’s, where scientists were looking for a certain protein associated with the disease. After analyzing the biopsies, researchers noticed that nine of the 11 viable samples had the protein. Despite the study’s small size, experts are hopeful the findings could signal a breakthrough in diagnosing the disease.
“This is the first study demonstrating the value of testing a portion of the saliva gland to diagnose a living person with Parkinson’s disease,” said study author Dr. Charles Adler. “Making a diagnosis in living patients is a big step forward in our effort to understand and better treat patients.”
Uncovering a test that can diagnose issues early is especially important inParkinson’s care, as medications and other therapy can markedly improve symptoms. Plus, with an estimated 1 million Americans living with the condition, it could help a large number of people.