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AAN 2013: Can Salivary Glands Help Test for Parkinson’s Disease?

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The Particulars: Currently, there is no diagnostic test available to identify Parkinson’s disease early. Research involving autopsies of patients with Parkinson’s suggests that abnormal proteins in the submandibular salivary glands may be a marker of the disease.

Data Breakdown: For a study, researchers recruited patients with Parkinson’s disease who had responded to Parkinson’s medications and did not have known salivary gland disorders. Upon salivary gland biopsies of participants with enough tissue to examine, 82% were found to have the abnormal Parkinson’s protein.

Take Home Pearls: Salivary gland biopsy may emerge as an effective strategy for detecting Parkinson’s disease in living patients. However, more research is needed before this approach can be deemed a viable diagnostic for Parkinson’s.

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