Scientists at the University of Illinois at Chicago are reporting that a new brain scanning technique may aid in the diagnosis of Parkinson's disease.
The goal, says researcher David Villaincourt, is to develop a way to diagnose Parkinson's that is non-invasive by scanning the portion of the brain "thought to underlie what causes the disease."
Using a special MRI, they were able to ide
ntify drops in certain neurons in the substantia nigra that scientists say is an indicator of the disease.
They tested the scan on 14 patients with Parkinson's symptoms and 14 without, and argue that results show that it is effective and may provide another avenue for diagnosis, and in the future possible track the disease's progression in the brain.
Villaincourt says that it may also enable small-scale testing of treatments for the disease, the brain scan will show whether or not the therapies treat the disease, as opposed to some current drug regimens which only alleviate symptoms.
According to the National Institute of Health, roughly 500,000 people suffer from Parkinson's, and another 50,000 more are diagnosed each year.