Technion-Israel Team Discovers Genes That Can Predict Parkinson’s Disease

Just announced on June 4, 2012 is that researchers at Israel’s Technion Institute have identified five genes that can possibly predict whether an individual will develop Parkinson’s disease. Dr. Silvia Mendel, the head of the research team, which included scientists from Germany and Italy as well as Israel, published the news in Molecular Neurodegeneration.

Since at present there isn’t a single blood test to screen for Parkinson’s it makes it difficult to identify people at risk for the disease.  Discovering these genes before symptoms appear is crucial for treatment success. 64 patients at the onset of the disease were studied with a control group of 64 healthy individuals. Genetic data from 30 patients in advanced stages of the disease were used to confirm the five genes as being predictive at 100% accuracy. The model they used differentiated between Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

People who at the pre symptom stage and suffer from depression, sleep disorders, hyposmia (reduced ability to smell) or who have a genetic predisposition to Parkinson’s are good candidates for diagnosing and treating. All five genes are part of the ubiquitin-proteasome system whose involovement in the pathology of Parkinson’s has already been demonstrated.

This new discovery will make it possible in the future to integrate a blood test with a brain scan and biomarkers in spinal fluid and the like to become the gold standard for early diagnosis for Parkinson’s and differentiation with other motor disorders.

While this is exciting news it still leaves many current Parkinson’s patients  with active symptoms that need treatment. One of the most effective physical therapy solutions for Parkinson’s symptoms is the TUTOR system. The HANDTUTOR, ARMTUTOR, LEGTUTOR and 3DTUTOR have been developed to afford intensive exercises for strengthening the affected limbs of these patients. The TUTORs, as physical therapy products used in many other neurological issues, are comfortable ergonomic gloves or braces that are strategically placed on the patient’s limb and connected to exclusive software where the patient can control with his own strength (rather than from external robots), and thereby exercise, various sophisticated games.

The intensive exercises are monitored by physical or occupational therapists who then record and regulate the pace of the exercises. Subsequently,the patient then receives augmented feedback and has a custom made exercise program geared to his ability. Currently in use in leading U.S. and European hospitals and rehabilitation clinics the TUTORs are fully certified by the FDA and CE and are suitable for children as well as adults. Additionally, they can be used at the patient’s home through the medium of telerehabilitation. See WWW.MEDITOUCH.CO.IL for more information.

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