Identification of a genetic forms of a gene that leads to high risk for Parkinson Disease
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a degenerative disorder that afflicts more than 500,000 Americans, with approximately 50,000 new cases each year. Though the risk of PD increases with age, as many as 15 percent of individuals with PD are under the age of 50. The cause of PD is unknown and there are no definitive tests for the disease. Diagnosis of PD can be especially problematic in the early stages of the disease. Many of the signs and symptoms of PD, such as trembling and trouble with speaking or writing, can be mistaken for the effects of aging. Not surprisingly, a diagnosis of PD in the young is sometimes overlooked because most affected individuals are older. Further, there are no tests that can definitively diagnose PD, and the methods currently used, such as neurological exams, Computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of the brain, or a course of levodopa, are limited and are more useful to rule out PD than confirm the disease. We have identified biomarkers in two genes which can be used to identify an individual’s risk of acquiring PD (both early onset and late onset) and to determine whether or not an individual has PD.
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