A quantitative, non-invasive, multi-modal, MRI-based diagnostic for Parkinson's disease.
- There is no diagnostic for Parkinson's disease - current blood tests and MRIs rarely reveal abnormalities in patients.
- Provides a quantitative MRI-based diagnostic as well as potential early (pre-symptomatic) diagnostic tool for Parkinson's disease.
- Able to quantitatively estimate locus coeruleus volume.
- Early detection and diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease is possible as the technology is further refined and developed.
There is currently no diagnostic test that can be used to identify and diagnose Parkinson's disease. Current blood tests and neuroimaging scans rarely reveal abnormalities in patients with Parkinson's disease. In the United States, at least 500,000 people are believed to suffer from Parkinson's disease, and about 50,000 new cases are reported annually. The rates vary from country to country but it is unclear whether this reflects true ethnic or geographic differences or discrepancies in data collection and diagnosis.
Although the presence of Lewy bodies (which can only be seen during an autopsy) in the brain are regarded as a hallmark of Parkinson's, Lewy bodies are present in a high number of people without diagnosed Parkinson's disease. Autopsies have now uncovered that patients with Parkinson's disease have a profound and early degeneration of the locus coeruleus. The locus coeruleus plays a role in arousal, attention, REM sleep and stress responses that are abnormal in Parkinson's patients. Emory researchers have developed a technique that uses neuromelanin MRI to image the locus coeruleus safely and non-invasively. With this neuromelanin MRI technique, high resolution images are created using a novel scanning algorithm which is applied to estimate locus coeruleus volumes. The new scanning method is optimized to a 3T MRI machine and harness proprietary pulse technology to achieve superior image results. This technique has been applied to 60 subjects.
Preliminary study demonstrates a significant decrease in locus coeruleus volume in patients with Parkinson's disease compared to controls and algorithm has been refined.
Presentation: Huddleston, D.E., et al. Movement Disorders 2012;27 Suppl 1 :729