Parkinson’s disease is a progressive condition in which parts of the brain slowly get damaged over the course of many years. There are currently no tests or scans that can confirm Parkinson’s disease, and it is usually only diagnosed once the symptoms are quite severe. There is also no cure for the disease, and treatment options are usually to manage the symptoms and pain rather than to fight the genetic makeup of the disease.
Doctors in Israel have developed a method of looking for a specific mixture of chemicals in a person’s exhaled breath, which would signal whether or not they are carrying the disease. This would enable doctors to catch the disease at a much earlier stage, meaning that any treatments prescribed would be much more effective, as the disease will not be too advanced.
A handheld device, which will be used to screen for the disease, is currently being developed. It will also make it easier to give patients the exact treatment necessary, as their doctors will have access to a snapshot of the genetic makeup of their patient’s disease. These can vary from person to person, so this snapshot will allow doctor’s to have an insight into the disease like never before. Researchers in Cambridge are studying this further, and are hopeful for its success.
There is a similar device that will be trialled in a number of clinics in the UK, but detects early stages of lung cancer rather than Parkinson’s.