There is currently no effective imaging agent -- a chemical that reveals signs of disease -- that allows physicians to diagnose Parkinson's disease (PD) at an early stage, to monitor disease progression or to assess the effectiveness of treatments. We propose to develop and test an imaging agent that will reveal brain fibrils, the hallmark feature of Parkinson's visible on a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. If successful, this agent will make possible definitive diagnosis of the disease and objective evaluation of treatment success.
We hypothesize that by linking magnetic nanoparticles -- tiny spheres that are visible on MRI scans -- with a compound that sticks to fibrils in the brains of people with PD, we will produce an imaging agent that will reveal this hallmark of the disease in the brain.
First, we will link a fibril-binding chemical to iron-containing nanoparticles. Then, we will evaluate how well the nanoparticles stick to the fibrils in the test tube and then in cells. Finally, we will link the nanoparticles to another chemical, which will help them find their way to the brain.
Impact on Diagnosis/Treatment of Parkinson's Disease:
If this study is successful, physicians will be able to diagnose Parkinson's disease at a much earlier stage and to initiate treatment. This technology will also enable medical scientists to evaluate the effectiveness of PD treatments under development.
Next Steps for Development:
Next, we will use pre-clinical models of Parkinson's to determine whether the nanoparticles travel to the brain and reveal the presence of the fibrils. We will also text their safety in several pre-clinical models before advancing to clinical trials.