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Funded Studies

Non-Invasive Method for Recovering Protein Biomarkers in Parkinson’s Disease

Study Rationale: There is a need for simple methods to improve the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease (PD) before individuals ever experience symptoms. Focused ultrasound technology can alter the walls of blood vessels in the brain, allowing proteins to move from the brain into the bloodstream. This procedure has been used in patients with neurological conditions and is considered safe as there have been no persistent side effects or medical problems. Using focused ultrasound on brain regions related to PD could allow us to obtain information about the disease from routine blood draws, without the need for invasive procedures.

Hypothesis: Using focused ultrasound may enhance the detection of proteins related to PD in the peripheral blood; this technology could therefore facilitate early diagnosis and improved care for people with PD.

Study Design: We will perform focused ultrasound on the brains of 10 participants with PD. The ultrasound will be applied in an area of the brain associated with the onset of PD. We will draw peripheral blood from each participant 60 minutes and 10 minutes before as well as 10 minutes after the focus ultrasound. We will then measure the number of proteins related to PD in the blood and compare amounts before and after focused ultrasound. We will follow up with physical examinations and brain scans for seven days, to investigate the possibility of medical problems caused by the procedure.

Impact on Diagnosis/Treatment of Parkinson’s disease: This study may help develop a non-invasive method for collecting disease-specific biomarkers to diagnose and follow the progression of PD. The ability to more accurately diagnose and follow up on PD progression will facilitate the development of better treatment strategies.

Next Steps for Development: A phase 2 study in a larger patient population will determine the accuracy of diagnosing PD using focused ultrasound, compared to other methods.


  • Nora Vanegas-Arroyave, MD

    Houston, TX United States

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