The tears of people with established Parkinson’s disease have protein signatures distinct from those of healthy controls, researchers have learned.
Mark Lew, MD, and his colleagues at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, used a noninvasive method to collect the tears and readily available assays to detect the proteins, paving the way for future studies of these proteins as biomarkers in early Parkinson’s disease (PD).
The researchers will report on their study at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in Los Angeles on April 22.
This research from Dr. Lew and his colleagues joins a host of ongoing efforts to find biomarkers for PD that can be used in the early stages of the disease, before motor dysfunction occurs. Other research groups are working on biomarkers in saliva and salivary glands, skin, blood, and cerebrospinal fluid. “Right now, a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease is based on clinical history and then examination and then, potentially, on response to medication,” said Dr. Lew, professor of neurology, the vice chair of the department of neurology, and the director of the division of movement disorders at USC. “The difficulty is really being able to definitively be able to diagnose patients with early disease.”