Research funded by Parkinson’s UK has brought medical researchers closer to ways of diagnosing the early stage of the condition.
Diagnosing Parkinson’s is difficult and one of the big problems for clinicians is identifying the medical indicators.
They used resting state fMRI – where people are required to stay still in an MRI scanner for a longer period of time – to compare levels of ‘connectivity’, or strength of brain networks in the basal ganglia, part of the brain known to be involved in Parkinson’s.
When this data was compared to those without Parkinson’s, the researchers were able to set a standard for level of connectivity to diagnose early stage Parkinson’s.
Claire Bale, Research Communications Manager at Parkinson’s UK, said: “This new research takes us one step closer to diagnosing Parkinson’s at a much earlier stage – one of the biggest challenges facing research into the condition.
“By using a new, simple scanning technique the team at Oxford have been able to study levels of activity in the brain which may suggest that Parkinson’s is present.
“One person every hour is diagnosed with Parkinson’s in the UK. We hope that the researchers are able to continue to refine their test so that it can one day be part of clinical practice.”