JUN 09, 2023 1:00 PM PDT

Urine Test for Parkinson's Disease

WRITTEN BY: Ryan Vingum

A team of researchers at Purdue University have developed a new way to test for early signs of Parkinson’s disease, using a simple urine test. This new approach is described in a recent article published in Communications Medicine.

Parkinson’s is a degenerative brain condition that affects movement, leading to incontrollable motions and, overtime, can affect a person’s ability to walk or talk. That’s why detecting Parkinson’s early is important. It can improve a person’s response to treatment, for example. However, there are two key problems with diagnosing early-onset Parkinson’s. First, it’s a time-consuming process. Patients have to undergo several cognitive and movement-related tests, which are used to identify changes in a person’s movement. This process can take up to a year in some scenarios. Second, clinicians may be somewhat objective in their evaluation of a patient’s scores on these tests. This can make it even hard to nail down a specific diagnosis. A quicker, more objective way of measuring is clearly needed. Enter a simple urine test, which could address both problems.

The urine test, called EVtrap, short for Extracellular Vesicles total recovery and purification, is designed to detect specific biomarkers of Parkinson’s disease. EVtrap looks specifically for LRRK2 (leucine-rich repeat kinase 2) proteins, which are believed to be linked to Parkinson’s disease. By developing a test focused on specific biomarkers, researchers have designed something that is both more objective than existing tests but also quicker. EVtrap uses magnetic material to draw out and collect neural-specific extracellular vesicles, which contain the proteins under investigation. These extracellular vesicles are used by cells to transport and deliver material around the body.

This new approach may change what’s possible when looking for biomarkers that were previously considered undetectable. In fact, because the extracellular vesicles under study can cross the blood-brain barrier, a urine test quickly becomes a powerful diagnostic tool.  

To date, the urine test has been used in both people with Parkinson’s and in health subjects, with promising results.

Sources: Medgadget; Communications Medicine

About the Author
Master's (MA/MS/Other)
Science writer and editor, with a focus on simplifying complex information about health, medicine, technology, and clinical drug development for a general audience.
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