Parkinson’s disease: A technological breakthrough – earlier diagnosis may now be possible

Putin 'may have Parkinson's' says former head of MI6

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The new technology allows doctors to see a crucial part of the brain known as the locus coeruleus.

This part of the brain produces most of the body’s supply of the hormone noradrenaline.

Researchers say this hormone plays a “critical role in brain functions including attention and arousal, thinking and motivation”.

Improved MRI scanning capabilities will enable doctors to see whether it has been damaged by Parkinson’s.

Professor James Rowe of the University of Cambridge said the locus coeruleus was “a devil to see on a normal scanner”.

Professor Rowe added: “Even good hospital scanners just can’t see it very well.”

Parkinson’s disease, much like other neurodegenerative diseases, affects motor skills.

These can appear as the early signs of the condition.

Early symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include:
• Tremors
• Slowness of movement
• Muscle stiffness
• Balance problems
• Loss of sense of smell
• Nerve pain
• Problems with urinating
• Constipation.

Meanwhile, a new study has shown a common skin condition also has high prevalence in patients with Parkinson’s disease.

The American Parkinson’s Disease Association (APDA) says dermatitis causes “patches of scaly, red skin, and dandruff, primarily on the scalp and on the oily parts of the face such as the sides of the nose”.

The APDA adds: “In much the same way that dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system cause non-motor symptoms in Parkinson’s such as blood pressure dysregulation and urinary abnormalities, autonomic dysfunction of the nerves that control the oil glands of the face can cause seborrheic dermatitis.”

Furthermore, a recent study has found this form of dermatitis is also associated with an increased risk of Parkinson’s.

The NHS describes dermatitis as “a type of eczema triggered by contact with a particular substance”.

Eczema is an umbrella of conditions where the skin becomes dry and irritated.

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