Eye test ‘detects Parkinson’s before symptoms appear’ — so far just in rats

A non-invasive eye test developed by researchers at University College London could detect Parkinson’s disease before symptoms emerge, according to a report in the journal Acta Neuropathologica Communications.

The inexpensive test, which has been tested on rats, involves observing changes in the retinas of Parkinson’s patients before changes occur in the brain. The technique has also been tested in humans for glaucoma.

Parkinson’s is estimated to affect between 51,000 and 120,000 people in the UK. Symptoms, which include muscle stiffness, slowness of movement and tremors, only appear once over 70 per cent of the brain’s dopamine-producing cells have been destroyed.

The test, which uses commonly available ophthalmic instruments, would allow earlier diagnosis of Parkinson’s and also could be used to monitor how patients respond to treatment.

Francesca Cordeiro, professor of glaucoma and retinal neurodegeneration studies, who led the research, said: ‘This is potentially a revolutionary breakthrough in the early diagnosis and treatment of one of the world’s most debilitating diseases.

‘These tests mean we might be able to intervene much earlier and more effectively treat people with this devastating condition.’

The study’s first author, Dr Eduardo Normando, said: ‘These discoveries have the potential to limit and perhaps eliminate the suffering of thousands of patients if we are able to diagnose early and to treat with this new formulation.’

Instant analysis
This research is very much in its infancy and the authors’ conclusions are based on their findings in rats; there is clearly a long way to go before these results are directly applicable to human subjects.

The researchers found that certain retinal changes in Parkinson’s disease preceded other pathological features which are currently looked for in order to make the diagnosis. These retinal changes may, postulate the authors, be a useful surrogate biomarker for Parkinson’s, and could in time be used to assess new treatments. The research also demonstrated that the use of a newly formulated version of rosiglitazone (an anti-diabetic drug) led to less cell damage in Parkinson’s disease. The research methodology seems robust but limited in scope.

At present, the findings remain a promising foundation for further work but do not, I think, represent a ‘breakthrough’.
Research score: 3/5

  • Jeff

    Gated Communities

    Gated communities are taking on an important role in modern politics. Donald Trump grew up in a gated community, and made his fortune building gated communities that illegally exclude African-Americans. Trump’s approach is not based on ideology, but on consumer demand, and in particular, the demand of the working class to live in a place where there are no minority groups, criminals, wierdos or politically correct (Catholic educated) people.

    A gated community has a number of characteristics. There is ideally a six metre high concrete wall to keep out intruders. When the wall surrounds a very large number of houses, the average cost of the wall becomes insignificant. Getting past the security guards is like going through customs. Hence there is no crime in a gated community, and children can roam unsupervised in complete safety. Parents can be sure their daughters will not encounter males that would be unsuitable sons-in-law.

    Allotments are typically quarter-acre or five acres (one-tenth or two hectares). Houses are fireproof and of a similar appearance. Services are provided by underground ducts, including pneumatic mail delivery. Television and internet are unobtrusively censored.

    There is a shopping centre with a supermarket and other key shops. Prices are controlled to prevent gouging. There is a club for men and older boys from which women are excluded. On the top of the shopping centre is a hospital and old people’s home overlooking a race track and playing

    There is a non-denomination church, which has leather sofas instead of pews, and wallpaper with pictures of saints like in an eastern orthodox church. The priest is a family man employed by the management committee. There is a co-educational school, so that if children conceive a passionate desire for a classmate, it will be someone of the opposite gender. The school has international baccalaureate and no homework.

    Once people move into a gated community, it occurs to them that, instead of their having to move into a gated community, it would be better if the “undesirables” were forced to live in ghettos, or were kicked out of the country altogether. No doubt this is what Donald Trump has in mind. The Conservative Party should take on board this trend in modern living and become the party for people who live or would like to live in gated communities. bi

  • Terence Hale

    The eyes are not only the window to the brain but reflect your well-being in general. For example they show indications of a high cholesterol, megaloblastic anaemia, diabetes and many other complaints. This may also sound strange but your ear lobe has a similar function, pressing different regions of the ear lobe reflect organ functionality.