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Early Screening Tools for Parkinson’s Disease

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Published on Sep 13, 2014

A smell test could someday be one of the tools to screen for people at risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, according to a new Mayo Clinic study.

“Parkinson’s is not a fully understood disease,” says Erika Driver-Dunckley, M.D., Mayo Clinic neurologist and lead author of the study. “We know that it is a chronic progressive neurodegenerative disease that gets worse and worse. The hope is to be able to identify people with minor symptoms and begin treatment before they have severe motor disability – it’s a much harder disease to treat when it’s in that advanced stage.”

In this latest study, recently published in the journal Parkinsonism & Related Disorders, Mayo Clinic researchers, working with collaborators at the Banner Sun Health Research Institute Brain and Body Donation program, examined the loss of the sense of smell in relation to a condition called Incidental Lewy Body Disease. Researchers found that most subjects with ILBD had a decreased sense of smell and this suggests that if they had lived longer they would have shown signs of Parkinson’s

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