Unlike other medical conditions that can be diagnosed through blood tests or biopsies there is no definitive test or “biomarker” that can identify Parkinson’s disease or trace its development, Dr. Claire Henchcliffe said last night at the launch of Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar’s latest monthly Medicine and U community health forum.
One of the most common nervous system disorders among the elderly, Parkinson’s disease usually develops after the age of 50. It is a disorder of the brain that leads to tremors and difficulty with walking, movement, and coordination. It affects both men and women and sometime occurs in younger adults if there is a family history of Parkinson’s disease.
Dr. Henchcliffe is an internationally recognized expert on Parkinson’s disease. In her role as founder of a Parkinson’s support group at Weill Cornell in New York, she has seen the limitations that exist without a reliable measurement tool for the disease.
“A biomarker would enable physicians to diagnose Parkinson’s earlier, perhaps even before physical symptoms appear. This, in turn, would allow for earlier treatment including the testing of therapies that may prevent the cell death that causes Parkinson’s,” Dr. Henchcliffe said.
“Since people with Parkinson’s do not fall into a single category, neither should their treatment. A biomarker would allow physicians to detect differences among patients and therefore develop individualized treatments.”
Dr. Henchcliffe serves as director of the Parkinson’s and Movement Disorders Institute at Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York and is currently studying two potential avenues for biomarking that will assist in the treatment and diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.
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