“Earlier this year, Parkinson’s disease (PD) research entered a new era when the Michael J. Fox Foundation announced a momentous scientific breakthrough—the discovery of a biomarker for PD. It meant that, for the first time ever, we can now pinpoint the earliest known signs of the disease in Parkinson’s patients.
This long-awaited new procedure is called the “alpha-synuclein seeding amplification assay”, and it’s capable of detecting the misfolded alpha-synuclein in spinal fluid—the wayward protein clearly linked to Parkinson’s. It separates, with a stunning 90 percent specificity, those who have evidence of PD pathology in their cells from those who do not. It does so even before the emergence of symptoms, much like the way high blood pressure or cholesterol levels are used to detect cardiovascular risk long before a heart attack lands someone in the ER.”