Eye test could detect Parkinson?s earlier

Using ophthalmic instruments that are routinely used in eye clinics, researchers at the University College London (UCL) Institute of Ophthalmology in the UK developed a new imaging technique by which they could observe changes in the retinas of rats.These retinal changes can be seen in Parkinson’s before changes in the brain occur and the first symptoms of the disease become evident. As such, it was said the new technique could enable earlier diagnosis of Parkinson’s while also offering a method by which to monitor how patients respond to treatment.After observing the retinal changes in the experimental model, the research team treated the rats with a newly formulated version of the anti-diabetic drug rosiglitazone, which is designed to help protect nerve cells.Following administration of the drug, the researchers found evidence of reduced retina cell death as well as a protective effect on the brain, suggesting the drug could have potential as a treatment for Parkinson’s disease.“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,” first author Dr Eduardo Normando, consultant ophthalmologist at Western Eye Hospital and UCL, said.“The evidence we have strongly suggests that we might be able to intervene much earlier and more effectively in treating people with this devastating condition using this non-invasive and affordable imaging technique.”It was said the technique had already been tested in humans for glaucoma and that trials were due to start soon for Alzheimer’s.

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