Researchers from Lund University have discovered a promising biomarker for Parkinson’s disease and other disorders that involve dopamine deficiency in the brain. The biomarker, called DOPA decarboxylase (DCC), was found to be elevated in individuals with Parkinson’s disease and other dopamine-related diseases. Interestingly, the researchers also observed that DCC levels were elevated in individuals with Parkinson’s many years before the onset of symptoms.
The study involved analyzing thousands of proteins in 428 individuals, using advanced techniques that allow simultaneous measurement in a small amount of sample. The results showed that patients with a disorder in the dopamine system had increased levels of DCC, regardless of the stage of the disease. Importantly, this biomarker can be measured in blood, making it a potential non-invasive tool for diagnosing Parkinson’s disease.
The findings were further confirmed in an additional group of 152 individuals, and blood plasma samples from 174 individuals also showed a significant increase in the biomarker. This is promising news, as current methods for detecting damage to the dopamine system, such as PET camera examinations, are costly and only available at specialized clinics.
Misdiagnosis of neurodegenerative brain diseases is a significant concern, as the symptoms can resemble each other. Finding safer and more accessible diagnostic tools is crucial for providing appropriate treatment. The researchers believe that blood markers, like DDC, will play a central role in the future, enabling early detection and intervention before symptoms become apparent.
This groundbreaking research provides hope for improved diagnostics and personalized treatment for patients with Parkinson’s disease and other dopamine-related disorders. By identifying specific biomarkers, it may be possible to develop targeted therapies that address the underlying causes of these diseases.
– Pereira, J. B., et al. (2023). DOPA decarboxylase is an emerging biomarker for Parkinsonian disorders including preclinical Lewy body disease. Nature Aging. doi.org/10.1038/s43587-023-00478-y.
– Lund University