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About Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s Disease Stinks. Plain and Simple.

  • About one million Americans live with Parkinson’s Disease (PD), which is more than the combined number of people living with multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and Lou Gehrig’s disease.

  • Approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with PD each year.

  • More than 10 million people worldwide are living with PD.

  • Incidence of PD increases with age, but an estimated 4% of PD patients are diagnosed prior to age 50.

  • Men over the age of 70 have a 35 percent higher risk of developing PD for every 10 years their life continues.

  • By 2020, the rate of people diagnosed with PD is expected to outpace that of Alzheimer’s Disease.

  • The combined cost of Parkinson’s is estimated to be nearly $25 billion per year.

  • Medications alone cost thousands per year, and therapeutic surgery can cost up to $100,000 per individual.

  • There is no current definitive, absolute test to diagnose PD other than a post-mortem exam.

  • An estimated 10-20% of PD cases are misdiagnosed.

​What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Neurotransmitters create the pathways for how the cells in your body communicate. Your brain uses neurotransmitters to tell your body how to move. In Parkinson’s Disease, neurons that produce the neurotransmitter dopamine die off in the basal ganglia, an area of the brain that controls body movement. As more and more of these dopaminergic neurons are destroyed, the brain can no longer control the body because the brain can no longer communicate with the body. This results in people shaking and jerking in spasms. As the disease progresses, people have less and less control over their bodily functions until they can no longer breathe or swallow.  

 

Early Detection Could Dramatically Slow Disease Progression.

The diagnosis and treatment of Parkinson’s Disease typically occurs when the disease has already progressed to an advanced stage in which motor symptoms are evident.  At this time, the patient has experienced too much neurophysical damage for treatment to dramatically slow progression. However, it is widely believed by the PD science and medical community that if Parkinson’s could be identified in a person 10 years prior to motor symptoms, that therapeutic intervention at this time would indeed dramatically slow disease progression. In fact, it is believed that progression could be slowed to the point of providing an additional one to four decades of active life to a person afflicted with PD. When one considers that PD is usually diagnosed beyond age 50, adding four decades of active life would almost mean maintaining an active lifestyle throughout the natural course of one’s life.

Early Warning Symptoms of PD, Years Prior to Diagnosis.

  • Smaller handwriting than usual

  • Loss of smell

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Stiffness in body, arms and legs

  • Constipation

  • Soft or low voice

  • Dizziness or fainting

  • Stooping or hunching over

  • Masked Face

  • Depression

  • Slight resting tremor in finger, thumb, hand or chin

 

Today, the only diagnosis for PD is a clinical one, which means there is no laboratory test or imaging test available that can positively diagnose Parkinson’s Disease in a living patient. There is hope though. Millions and millions of research dollars are being spent to find and develop a test for Parkinson’s Disease based on discovery of a marker unique to the disease.

As you read this, research scientists from all over the world are hunting for a biomarker that is specific and unique to Parkinson’s Disease. They are analyzing blood, urine, enzymes, lipids, tears, breath, sebum, viruses, organisms, environmental toxins and genes in the race to find a marker that could be used for early PD detection. One of the clues to a potential marker exists in the form of odor.

A new discovery shows that 5-10 odor molecules exist unique to Parkinson’s Disease. Yes, Parkinson’s Disease Really Does Stink.

In 2017, Researchers at Manchester University announced the discovery of 5-10 odor molecules that could be found in swabs taken from the skin of Parkinson’s patients. Since dogs can detect one in a million odor molecules, the combination of dog-sniffing and science provides the exciting possibility of isolating and identifying these molecules. The identification of these molecules could lead to finding a biomarker of Parkinson’s. Biomarkers provide important clues to the cause of the disease, and understanding the cause can open the door to finding the cure.    

 

For more on Parkinson’s, look here:

https://www.ajmc.com/journals/supplement/2012/408_12sep_parkinsons/a408_12sep_murman_s183to88

http://www.sciencemag.org/custom-publishing/webinars/early-detection-parkinsons-disease-challenges-and-potential-new

http://parkinson.org/Understanding-Parkinsons/Causes-and-Statistics/Statistics

https://www.agingcare.com/articles/what-causes-parkinsons-disease-115494.htm