Parkinson’s disease: The early sign of the condition that could be spotted in the nose

Philip Tindall says he 'tried to ignore' his Parkinson's

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More than 145,00 people in UK and 10 million people worldwide have Parkinson’s, with researchers expecting the condition to grow to epidemic proportions in coming years. The condition produces a wide range of non-movement related symptoms, including chronic pain, sleep disturbances, and memory concerns. To date, no treatments exist to halt the progression of the condition, with doctors limited to prescribing drugs to appease symptoms only. This has highlighted the pressing need for new methods to spot the disease in its earlier stages. One sign in the nose may foreshadow the condition, before overt symptoms start to appear.

Previous post-mortem examinations of Parkinson’s patients who died prematurely with the condition have revealed that 7 percent show signs of the disease when they pass away.

These findings have suggested that signs might be present for years before onset.

A recent study carried out by the Medical University of Innsbruck in Austria found a concentration of misfolded proteins called synucleins in the nose.

Findings revealed that 44 percent of 63 people who experienced REM sleep behaviour disorder had such wrongly folded synucleins inside their nostrils.

READ MORE: Parkinson’s disease: The drink found to reduce nonmotor symptoms

This was comparable with other groups, where 49 percent of 41 people with confirmed Parkinson’s and 10 percent of a group of 59 people of a similar age but without any confirmed neurological conditions, also had wrongly folded synucleins.

The build of the misfolded proteins is believed to cause the death of cells that manage the production of dopamine, one of the underlying causes of Parkinson’s.

Synucleins are thought to travel in the blood stream from the gut to the brain, or vice-versa, inflicting considerable damage to brain cells.

A line of evidence suggests that these proteins build up in the nose for some and in the gut for others, before impacting the brain, whilst for others they are most widespread in pockets across the nervous system.

Rapid Eye Movement sleep behaviour disorder was taken by the researchers as an early sign of Parkinson’s.

The condition is a form of sleep disturbance through to be influential over neurological health.

Cases of sleep disturbances are rife among patients with Parkinson’s disease, strongest correlations are however observed between RED sleep behaviour disorder and Parkinson’s.

Researchers also noted that individuals with REM sleep behaviour disorder and presence of wrongly-folded synucleins also experienced a severe loss of smell – another sign associated with the condition.

Senior author of the study Werner Poewe went on to suggest there may be a correlation between the faulty synucleins and reduced sense of smell.

It is widely believed among the scientific community that Parkinson’s is idiopathic, meaning is lacks a clear cause.

This has rendered the search for target treatments challenging, but efforts are mounting to identify ways to reverse the shortfall of dopamine-making cells.

Since Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative condition, symptoms worsen drastically with time, often leading to disability in the later stages.

Furthermore, no clinical tests are yet available for detecting the condition, with experts resorting to medical subjective assessment of symptoms for diagnoses.

The findings come as a study published earlier this year suggested a risk factor for Parkinson’s could be a chemical used in household products.

The chemical, known as TCE, is found in dry-cleaning and household products such as show polished and carpet cleaners in the US.

The evidence was derived from individuals exposed to the chemical in the work place, who showed higher rates of the condition.

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