Thanks to Brain Support Network volunteer Denise Dagan for passing this article in MedPage Today on to me. This is progress on the way to a biomarker to discern if someone has Parkinson’s Disease (PD) vs. one of three atypical parkinsonism disorders — progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), corticobasal degeneration (CBD), and multiple system atrophy (MSA). Of course what we really need are biomarkers for each of the disorders — PD, PSP, CBD, and MSA. But still, it’s progress.
The article is about a Swedish/UK study (published in the journal Neurology on February 8th) that shows that neurofilament light chain (NF-L) protein levels are increased in PSP, CBD, and MSA as compared to those with PD or healthy controls. This was true for those recently diagnosed as well as those with had been living with PD, PSP, CBD, and MSA for several years. (This also means that the blood test is not a biomarker for determining if someone has PD.)
And researchers determined that a blood test for the NF-L protein achieves the same results as a spinal test for this protein does. Obviously it’s much easier to administer a blood test than a spinal tap.
In an accompanying editorial, authors pointed out that there is a need for autopsy confirmation of the PD vs. atypical parkinsonism diagnoses.
Here are two excerpts from the article:
* “These atypical parkinsonism disorders are rare, but they generally progress much faster and are more likely to be the cause of death than Parkinson’s disease,” [one of the researchers] said. “It’s important for patients and their families to receive the best care possible and to plan for their future needs.”
* “Distinguishing these major parkinsonian groups is crucial for best possible treatment and care, and not least for providing adequate information to patients and caregivers on their future needs and perspectives,” the editorialists pointed out. “When disease-modifying treatments become available, diagnosing parkinsonian disorders correctly at early, possibly preclinical stages will be even more important.”
Here’s a link to the full article:
Blood Test Matches Spinal Tap to ID Parkinson Disease Types
Less painful diagnostic workup could help diagnosis
by Kristin Jenkins
Contributing Writer, MedPage Today
February 08, 2017