HealthDay News — Researchers have developed a blood test that they say could help neurologists detect Parkinson’s disease and track the illness as it progresses.

In their new study, researchers say they’ve found two genetic markers that are 90% effective at indicating the presence of Parkinson’s disease. The markers are related to how the body processes glucose (blood sugar) and insulin, said study co-author Jose Santiago, MS, a research associate at Chicago Medical School.

The researchers then tracked 101 people with Parkinson’s and 91 healthy people. They found that gene “expression” changed significantly over three years in the Parkinson’s patients. The study was published in the Feb. 3 online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

More research is needed to confirm that the test works, and the researchers would like to make it more accurate. Also, it’s not clear how much the test might ultimately cost.

One goal is to “greatly” improve the accuracy of Parkinson’s diagnosis through a combination of analysis of symptoms, brain scans and blood tests, study co-author Judith Potashkin, PhD, professor of cellular and molecular pharmacology at Chicago Medical School, said. It would also help to diagnose Parkinson’s in early stages and use blood tests to check its progress and see if drugs work early on, she said.


Santiago JA and Potashkin JA. Network-based metaanalysis identifies HNF4A and PTBP1 as longitudinally dynamic biomarkers for Parkinson’s disease. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015; doi: 10.1073/pnas.1423573112.