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A Skin Test May Help Diagnose Both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s

By Dian Brannen, 9:00 am on

Early detection is a crucial part of the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, conditions that affect nearly 7 million Americans altogether. Researchers in Mexico have discovered a skin test that may help with detection efforts and allow doctors to initiate treatment before symptoms are observed. Read on for more information, presented by Home Care Assistance, a trusted provider of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and dementia care for seniors in the Lehigh Valley.

Updating the Detection Process

Pathological confirmation of PD and Alzheimer’s disease can’t be made without a brain biopsy. Consequently, diagnosis isn’t confirmed until patients present symptoms. Mexican scientists hope to update the detection process by using skin biopsies instead to look for elevated levels of certain abnormal proteins characteristic of both conditions.

Skin Tissue and Brain Tissue

Since brain tissue and skin tissue have the same origin while in the embryo during early development, University of San Luis Potosi researchers speculated that tissues from each location may share the same proteins. If this is the case, then a skin test may detect the same abnormality found in the brain tissue of Parkinson’s and AD patients without the need to wait for a postmortem exam for confirmation.

Promising Study Results

In order to test their theory, researchers took skin biopsies from a selected group of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and dementia patients. Healthy individuals were also included in the mix for comparison purposes. Subjects with AD and PD had significantly higher levels of the abnormal proteins characteristic of each condition than what was detected in healthy individuals. Within this study group, proteins found in skin samples correlated with the patient conditions, suggesting that researchers are right about their guess.

More research is necessary to confirm the initial results in larger groups. However, the possibility of being able to test tissue in live patients to confirm a diagnosis of Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s early on does present many possibilities. As for who would get the test, it would likely be based on family and medical histories that would identify patients at an increased risk of developing PD or AD.

An Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s diagnosis can be difficult for everyone involved, but you, your family, and your senior loved one don’t have to face the future alone. Home Care Assistance is here to help. We provide comprehensive Lehigh Valley senior care services and offer 24/7 availability, flexible care schedules, and no long-term contracts. To learn more, please call 484-350-3874 and request a complimentary in-home consultation.