Skip to main content
Funded Studies

From Nose to Diagnostics: Development of an Accessible Screening Platform for Early Diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease

Study Rationale:
The aim of this study is to determine if chemicals found on the skin of those with Parkinson's disease (PD) can be used as a way to diagnose PD before motor symptoms develop. We have preliminary evidence that the sebum (oil from the skin) of those with PD differs from that of those without PD and that odors from the sebum can be used to provide an early diagnostic indicator of the onset and progression of PD. We seek funding to extend our investigations into the metabolomic composition (chemical fingerprints) of sebum using mass spectrometry (technique that sorts chemicals) methodologies and complementary work with medical detection dogs.

We plan to determine if those with PD have a distinct sebum profile that is linked with a distinct odor profile that can be detected and identified/discriminated using proposed human/canine/analytical platforms.

Study Design:
We will develop a pipeline of mass spectrometry-based screening to separate and identify distinct biomarkers (disease activity tracker) for PD from non-invasive sampling of chemicals present on the skin. We will recruit participants from over 20 centers for Parkinson's disease in the United Kingdom and will include those with drug-naïve and late-stage PD, as well as healthy controls, in the study. Sebum samples will be collected from the forehead and upper back of participants and sent to the University of Manchester for analysis. In parallel, we will use both human and canine detection to refine the sampling procedure and to confirm the odor of potential biomarkers.

Impact on Diagnosis/Treatment of Parkinson's Disease:
Identification of biomarkers for PD that are detectable early in the progression of the disease will allow us to do the following:

  1. Develop targeted diagnostic approaches for at-risk groups
  2. Understand the early stages of the disease
  3. Develop a method that can track changes in detectable quantities of a biomarker to help determine the best treatment options
  4. Potentially treat PD at an earlier stage

Next Steps for Development:
Based on the results of this study, mass spectrometry or chemical sensor tests may be used for diagnostics. The chosen method will be used to screen those individuals at risk of developing PD. We will also use our diagnostic approach in a longitudinal study to determine changes in biomarkers that occur across treatment and symptom severity.


  • Perdita Barran, BSc, Hons PhD

    Manchester United Kingdom

Discover More Grants

Search by Related Keywords

Within the Same Program

Within the Same Funding Year

We use cookies to ensure that you get the best experience. By continuing to use this website, you indicate that you have read our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.