Blood test for early diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.

Blood test for early diagnosis of Parkinson's disease.

Breakthrough Blood Test Offers Hope for Early Diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that currently lacks a definitive diagnostic blood test or brain scan. However, new research holds promise for changing this reality. A recent study has shown that a blood test measuring DNA damage in the mitochondria of cells could potentially lead to early diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. The accumulation of mitochondrial DNA damage has been observed in the brain tissue of people who have died from the disease, making it a potential biomarker. If validated, this revolutionary blood test could significantly improve patient outcomes by enabling targeted drug studies and the development of better treatments.

Identifying Parkinson’s Disease with a Blood Test

The study, conducted by researcher Laurie Sanders at the Duke School of Medicine, focused on identifying a specific marker for Parkinson’s disease through a blood test. The research team found that individuals with Parkinson’s disease had higher levels of DNA damage in the mitochondria of their cells. Moreover, the study further revealed that individuals without Parkinson’s disease but carrying the genetic mutation LRRK2 also had elevated levels of damaged DNA. This suggests that this DNA damage could be an early sign of the disease and can be used to screen individuals at high risk. By intervening earlier, doctors may be able to provide better care and slow down disease progression.

Potential Benefits of the Blood Test

The blood test not only has the potential to diagnose Parkinson’s disease early but also has the ability to determine the effectiveness of specific medication therapies. In the study, researchers tested an LRRK2 inhibitor treatment, which resulted in lower levels of mitochondrial DNA damage in cells compared to those who did not receive the inhibitor. This finding suggests that the blood test could be used to identify patients who would respond well to this particular medication. However, while these initial findings are exciting, more research and validation are needed before the blood test can be utilized as a reliable diagnostic tool.

Expert Opinions and Future Directions

The use of mitochondrial DNA damage as a marker for Parkinson’s disease has been hailed as a clever approach by experts like Dr. Michael Okun, medical advisor for the Parkinson’s Foundation. He praised the blood-based approach for reliably identifying individuals with the genetic marker LRRK2, something that previous methods have struggled to accomplish. Dr. Okun emphasized the potential of the blood test to determine individual responses to medication therapy, a valuable tool in personalizing treatment plans.

Despite these positive findings, it is important to note that the blood test requires further validation before it can be considered a biomarker. Dr. Okun suggests that future research should involve larger sample sizes, testing in independent cohorts, and differentiation from other Parkinsonian subtypes. These steps are crucial to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the blood test as a diagnostic tool.


The development of a blood test for Parkinson’s disease holds immense promise for early diagnosis and personalized treatment approaches. Identifying the presence of damaged DNA in the mitochondria of cells could provide a much-needed diagnostic tool, as well as offer insights into potential medication therapies. While the blood test is still in the early stages of research, it has the potential to revolutionize Parkinson’s disease management by enabling early intervention and improved patient outcomes.

For more information on Parkinson’s disease diagnosis, visit the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research website.

Parkinson’s Disease Quiz QUESTION: Parkinson’s disease is only seen in people of advanced age. Answer: False