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Early brain "signs of Parkinson's" found

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Scientists say they identified the earliest signs of Parkinson's in the brain, 15 to 20 years before symptoms appear.

Scans of A small number of high-risk patients found disorders in the brain's serotonin system that controls mood, sleep and exercise.

King & # 39; s College researchers in London say the discovery may lead to new screening tools and treatments.

Experts say that they are bigger First, studies and more affordable research were needed.

Parkinson's is a progressive neurological disorder affecting approximately 1

45,000 people in the UK.

The main symptoms are tremor, tremor and stiffness, but also depression, memory and sleep disorders are common. [19659005] Traditionally, it is thought that the disease is related to a chemical called dopamine, which is missing in the brain of people with this disease.

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Although there is no cure, there are treatments to control the symptoms – and they focus on restoring dopamine levels ,

However, the KCL research team written in Lancet Neurology suggests that changes in serotonin levels in the brain are paramount – and can serve as early warning signs.

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Brain scans show a reduction in serotonin levels (blue / black area) as Parkinson's progresses

The researchers studied the brains of 14 people from remote villages in southern Greece and Italy, all of whom have rare mutations in the SNCA gene, so they are almost certain to develop the disease.

Half of this group had already been diagnosed with Parkinson's, half of whom had not yet shown any symptoms, which made them ideal for studying the course of the disease.

By comparing their brains with another 65 patients with Parkinson's disease and 25 healthy volunteers, researchers were able to detect early brain changes in patients in their 20s and 30s.

These were found in the serotonin system, a chemical that has many functions in the brain, including mood, appetite, cognition, well-being and exercise.

& # 39; Could open doors & # 39;

Lead The author of the study, Prof. Marios Politis of the Institute for Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King's, said the anomalies were detected long before the onset of motion problems and before the change in dopamine levels.

"Our findings suggest that early detection of changes in the serotonin system will allow the development of new therapies to slow and ultimately prevent the progression of Parkinson's disease."

Prof. Derek Hill, professor of medical imaging at University College London, said the research provided some valuable insight but had some limitations.

"Your findings may not be transferable to larger studies," he said.

Second, the imaging method they use is highly specialized and limited to a very small number of research centers. Therefore, it can not yet be used to diagnose patients or even to evaluate novel treatments in large clinical trials.

"However, research is an encouragement to the approach to treat Parkinson's disease at the earliest possible moment, which is probably the best chance to prevent the rising numbers of people whose lives are being destroyed by this terrible disease." 19659005] Dr. med. Beckie Port, Parkinson Research Director UK, said, "To fully understand the importance of this discovery requires further research, but if it succeeds in unlocking a tool to measure and monitor Parkinson's development, there may be countless changes lives. "

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