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A Skin Test Might Predict Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s

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Diagnosis of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, particularly in the early stages, is very difficult. Minor changes in behavior and function that are characteristic of these diseases can also be caused by many other conditions and sometimes are attributed to age. Only as the diseases progress are clinicians able to diagnose them with any certainty, and even then the only way to make a diagnosis with complete confidence is through an autopsy or highly invasive brain biopsy. As a leading provider of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s care in Fairfield, Home Care Assistance is excited to share potentially groundbreaking new advances in research.

Skin Biopsy

At the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology this year, scientists announced they may have discovered a simple skin test that can diagnose early cases of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. The study, conducted in Mexico, tested skin biopsies from individuals with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, other neurodegenerative conditions, and healthy people. They tested the skin biopsies for the presence of abnormal proteins. Patients with Alzheimer’s had highly elevated levels of tau in their skin, and patients with Parkinson’s had elevated levels of both tau and alpha-synuclein relative to healthy people and people with other conditions. 

Connection Between Skin and Neurons

The accumulation of particular abnormal proteins in the brain is a characteristic of both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. The researchers state that during embryonic development, the skin and the neurons are both derived from the same precursor cells, and therefore whatever pathological mechanism behind the accumulation of abnormal proteins in the brain seems to also be operating in the skin. 

New Approach to Diagnosis and Treatment

Researchers are excited about the results because it is relatively easy, and completely harmless to the patient, to take a skin biopsy. If further studies confirm the results of the Mexican study, a minimally invasive and accurate way of diagnosing these diseases early may be available soon. In addition, if skin is experiencing the same pathology as neurons, scientists may have discovered a new, readily available material to study in hopes of identifying treatments for these devastating neurodegenerative diseases.

If your elderly loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, know that help is available. We offer home care Fairfield families trust to provide the support seniors need through each stage of the disease. For more information, call a friendly Care Manager at 203-955-1915 and request a complimentary in-home consultation today.