The challenge 

Parkinson’s Disease is difficult to diagnose. Currently, clinicians rely on a combination of expensive scans and assessment of signs and symptoms – including tremors and impaired mobility – to make a diagnosis. Patients often learn of their diagnosis when the disease is more advanced, and sometimes Parkinson’s disease is only discovered during an autopsy.

The solution   

With the sensitivity of single-molecule spectroscopy, Dr Emma Sierecki and her team have developed an assay to detection biomarkers for Parkinson’s Disease – alpha-synuclein –in spinal fluid. This assay takes a merely hours, compared with other assays currently under development which requires several days. The team are currently adapting this diagnostic assay to detect the biomarker in a simple blood test, to avoid the need for invasive spinal tap procedures.

The impact

Early and accurate diagnosis allows more time for therapeutic intervention and even prevention of signs and symptoms. Being able to monitor disease progression with this assay has the potential to facilitate discovery and testing of new drugs to treat or even cure Parkinson’s disease. 

“With reliable, early detection, doctors could better manage the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, and potentially slow the progression of disease. With the right treatment, they may in the future, even be able to prevent the onset of clinical signs,” says Dr Emma Sierecki

Key people and partners