The Parkinson’s Treatment Could Dramatically Improve with A Breakthrough by Biomakers

Parkinson's Disease Progression
Photographer: David Vaillancourt

An innovative method of tracking the progression of Parkinson’s disease could develop a treatment that can slow down, or even stop the progression of it.

The researchers at the University of Florida, funded by the National Institutes of Health, were able to use a process called functional magnetic resonance imaging that has the ability to help pinpoint at which level the Parkinson’s disease has effected the brain activity, if any. This study could be found and published in the Neurology journal.

Many current treatment medications that focus on keeping the symptoms under control, the biomakers found a measurable way to quantify, not only the symptoms, but also the neurological changes that come as a result.

In the past, previous studies showed how the imaging techniques used required an injection of a drug that crossed the blood-brain barrier.

“Our technique does not rely upon the injection of a drug. Not only is it non-invasive, it’s much less expensive,” said David Vaillancourt, Ph.D. David Vaillancourt is a professor at UF’s Department of Applied Physiology and Kinesiology where he hold the position of senior author to the current study.

The study’s authors included researchers from both UF, College of Health and Human Performance and the College of Medicine and the Medical University of Carolina. They used the magnetic resonance imaging that focused on examining the five brain compartments that were responsible for both movement and balance. A year following the baseline study, there were 46 Parkinson’s patients that showed signs of declining in two areas: the primary motor cortex and putamen. The evaluated  Parkinson’s-related disorder displayed a decline: The ones with multiple system atrophy showed signs of a reduction in activity in three out of the five areas, and the 19 that had supranuclear palsy showed a decline in all five of the areas. All the while, none of the 34 healthy controlled individuals showed any signs of brain change.

“For decades, the field has been searching for an effective biomarker for Parkinson’s disease,” said Debra Babcock, M.D., Ph.D., program director at the NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. “This study is an example of how brain imaging biomarkers can be used to monitor the progression of Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders.”

There was a study that took place back in 2015 at UF that showed the initial document  of progressive deterioration from Parkinson’s by form of MRI. It showed the area in the brain known as substania nigra and it’s increasing in unconstrained fluid. Back in November an NIH-funded study utilized both of the biomakers in order to determine whether a drug could be approved for relieving symptoms by slowing down or stopping progressive degeneration.

As a program director at NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Katrina Gwinn, M.D., shared the discomfort she experienced in identifying biomarkers as “an essential part of moving towards the development of treatments that impact the causes, and not just the symptoms, of Parkinson’s disease.”

It is amazing at which point our researching is headed. The ability to change lives and riding such experiences allows others the opportunity to experience live in another form. #Rewordit!

Clark, Allison (2016, August 15). “Biomaker breakthrough could improve Parkinson’s treatment” UF News. Retrieved from


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