Researchers might have found a new way to diagnose Parkinson’s disease. A recently conducted study has demonstrated that a portion of the submandibular salivary gland could be used to test for the motor system disorder in living patients.

In the study, biopsies of the gland under the lower jaw and the minor salivary gland in the lower lip were taken from 15 patients with an average age of 68 who had been living with the disease for an average of 12 years.

As previous autopsies had shown that the abnormal proteins associated with Parkinson’s disease are consistently found in the submandibular salivary gland, the researchers tested the tissue samples for the presence of these proteins and detected them in nine of the patients. Four samples did not contain enough tissue for the test to be completed.

In addition, the researchers observed that positive findings tended to be much higher in the biopsies of the submandibular gland than in the lower lip gland.

Currently, there is no blood or laboratory test that has been proven to help in diagnosing Parkinson’s disease. “Making diagnosis in living patients thus is a big step forward in our effort to understand and better treat patients,” said Dr. Charles Adler, the study’s author and a professor of neurology. “The findings may be of great use when needing tissue proof of Parkinson’s disease, especially when considering performing invasive procedures such as deep brain stimulation surgery or gene therapy,” he added.

According to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, as many as 1 million Americans live with Parkinson’s disease and about 60,000 cases are diagnosed each year. Usually, it affects people over the age of 50, with men being one and a half times more likely to develop the disease than women are.

The findings of the current study will be presented at the 65th annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in San Diego taking place from March 16 to 23.

Original Source: The Dental Implant