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Australian researchers developed a blood test for Parkinson's

Engadget Engadget 21/04/2016 Timothy J. Seppala
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By the time Parkinson's disease makes itself known in humans, it's already too late for treatment. But La Trobe University in Australia has developed a test that detects a biomarker present in blood cells in folks with the disease. The school describes the test as a means of detecting problems within cell mitochondria that cause an energy-and-stress-sensing protein, dubbed AMPK, to permanently activate and start damaging cells.

The research is being bankrolled in part by Parkinson's perhaps highest-profile patient, Michael J. Fox. Well, his foundation dedicated to further research on the debilitating malady, that is. The downside is that even with Fox's Foundation for Parkinson's Research and the Shake It Up Australia Foundation's $640,000 grant to La Trobe, more money is still needed for the test to be ready for the public. And beyond that, it'd still take five years to hit the market with additional funding.

For now, the school is increasing the amount of testing it's doing, going from a group of 38 people to 70. According to The Guardian, the ultimate goal is to do a longitudinal study with "thousands" of people in their 40s prior to them being at risk for the disease and before they start showing physical symptoms. From there, the researchers could test beyond Parkinson's and see if the same method could be used to diagnose other neurological disorders, like Alzheimer's, as well.La Trobe University

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