Neuroimaging Technique for Early Detection and Diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease


A quantitative, non-invasive, multi-modal, MRI-based diagnostic for Parkinson's disease.

Key Benefits

  • 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.

Market Summary

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. 

Technical Summary

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.

Developmental Stage

Preliminary study demonstrates a significant decrease in locus coeruleus volume in patients with Parkinson's disease compared to controls and algorithm has been refined.

Publication: Huddleston, D.E., et al. Movement Disorders 2012;27 Suppl 1 :729

Patent Information

App Type Country Serial No. Patent No. File Date Issued Date Patent Status
Nationalized PCT - United States United States 14/395,140 9,600,881 10/17/2014 3/21/2017 Issued
Nationalized PCT - Foreign EP 13784304.1 2844143 10/31/2014 7/19/2023 Issued
EP Registered Country France 13784304.1 2844143 10/31/2014 7/19/2023 Issued
EP Registered Country Germany 13784304.1 2844143 10/31/2014 7/19/2023 Issued
EP Registered Country United Kingdom 13784304.1 2844143 10/31/2014 7/19/2023 Issued
Tech ID: 11187
Published: 8/15/2012