It is now well known that Parkinson’s disease (PD) can help patients reduce the risk of progression and live a long and productive life with this neuro-degenerative disorder. It is the quest to detect early signs that led researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B) to develop a blood-based test. And now they have achieved 95 percent accuracy in diagnosing the disease early in a small group of patients at KEM Hospital.
One of the strong causes of PD is a special type of toxic protein (amyloids) produced by alpha-synuclein, which kills neuronal cells in the brain. These alpha-synuclein proteins also cross the blood-brain barrier and enter the bloodstream in small amounts. Researchers from the IIT-B Department of Bioscience and Bioengineering, led by Prof Samir Maji, have developed a technology that includes a small molecule that is added to blood samples. This increases the amount of protein if present. As the groups grow, they can easily measure and confirm PD.
After achieving a 95 percent success rate in early detection, the department is in the process of conducting large-scale clinical trials of the approved technology.
“The deposition of plaques (aggregates) of protein in the brain is one of the causes of many neuro-degenerative diseases, including PD. Alpha-synuclein, a presynaptic protein, is thought to play an important role in vesicular trafficking and neurotransmitter release. Accumulation of this protein has been directly linked to the disease PD. For example, the non-naturally occurring protein is converted into high-density fibrillar aggregates. Lewy bodies and Lewy neurites are the deposits of these protein aggregates found in neuronal cells in certain areas of the brain, which they improve muscle tone, movement and mental function,” explains Prof Maji.
Currently, the standard Parkinson’s disease is a disease; there is no test. Therefore making a definitive diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease is still very difficult. Professor Maji said: “Until now, the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease is based on the symptoms of the disease (tremor, impotence, impaired movement, cognitive impairment, etc.). However, by the time the symptoms begin, 70 percent of the dopaminergic cells in the brain have already died and the level of dopamine is greatly reduced. The research that has been done so far has not been successful in developing methods to diagnose the disease at the beginning due to the absence of well-known physical signs (before the disease of neurodegeneration), special signs (representing the onset of the disease), and symptoms of development. and aging and other neurodegenerative diseases. Furthermore, the initial loss of dopaminergic neurons in the Substantia Nigra pars Compacta (SNc) region of the brain is a very small change. Conventional brain imaging techniques, such as MRI, PET scans may not be clear enough to detect small changes in the brain and distinguish them from other degenerative diseases and aging. Therefore, there is a need to identify symptoms that can detect the disease in its early stages. “
“We have developed a small scale to increase the amount of low levels of alpha-synuclein, which may be for patients with Parkinson’s disease,” he adds. A small group has validated this test but larger clinical trials are needed to determine its sensitivity and validity. “Currently, the method of increasing small groups of alpha-synuclein in the blood is very time-consuming, but in time we can find ways to solve these problems so that we can detect them in a short time in a cheap way,” says Prof Maji. .