Skin Test May Flag Parkinson's Early

The test uses skin samples to detect protein buildup in nerves
By Gina Carey,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 24, 2024 4:20 PM CDT
Skin Test May Flag Parkinson's Early
A new test uses skin samples to detect protein buildup in nerves that may signify Parkinson's disease.   (Getty / trumzz)

Doctors have a new tool to diagnose Parkinson's disease, which (behind Alzheimer's) is the second-most common neurodegenerative disorder in the US. Per the Wall Street Journal, a paper published in the medical journal JAMA this week says the Syn-One Test accurately detected a buildup of proteins in the nerves that indicated Parkinson's in 93% of participants. "The skin test basically is a window into the brain," neurology professor Dr. Joseph Jankovic tells the Journal. Specifically, it looks for an abnormal protein linked to degenerative brain disorders called phosphorylated alpha-synuclein, or P-SYN, per the Independent.

  • 500,000 diagnosed: About a half million people are diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, according to the CDC, but the number of actual cases is likely higher. Doctors typically begin diagnosis from symptoms, which usually start with hand tremors, and can take years to surface.
  • Early detection: One of the goals of the test is to flag Parkinson's early, when drug treatment could slow down the progression of the disease. "What we're hoping for is within the next few years, we'll have some disease-modifying therapies," says Dr. Todd Levine, one of the paper's authors.
  • Accurate diagnosis: Along with helping diagnose Parkinson's early, the Syn-One Test can also rule out other diseases that have similar symptoms. One study that reviewed autopsies showed that patients with Parkinson's were often misdiagnosed—over 20% of them. Outside this skin test, a spinal fluid test already exists, and others are developing tests that detect the disease from blood, tears, and nasal swabs.
  • Already in use: CND Life Sciences CEO Rick Morello tells AZ Family that the skin test, which costs $1,500 and is covered by most insurances, actually went to market four years ago but is now used more widely. "We now have over 1,200 neurologists and 46 states using it in every day clinical practice."
(Research suggests a link between a chemical and Parkinson's disease.)

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