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Skin test may shed new light on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases

The 24th February issue of Science Daily reports that scientists at the Central Hospital at the University of San Luis Potosi in San Luis Potosi, Mexico have found that skin biopsies can be used to detect elevated levels of abnormal proteins found in the two diseases.

For the study, researchers took skin biopsies from 20 people with Alzheimer’s disease, 16 with Parkinson’s disease and 17 with dementia caused by other conditions and compared them to 12 healthy people in the same age group. They tested these skin samples to see if specific types of altered proteins were found — ones that indicate a person has Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.

As compared to healthy patients and ones with dementia caused by other conditions, those with both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s had seven times higher levels of the tau protein. People with Parkinson’s also had an eight times higher level of alpha-synuclein protein than the healthy control group.

“More research is needed to confirm these results, but the findings are exciting because we could potentially begin to use skin biopsies from living patients to study and learn more about these diseases. This also means tissue will be much more readily available for scientists to study,” said study author Ildefonso Rodriguez-Leyva.”This procedure could be used to study not only Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, but also other neurodegenerative diseases.”

The study results will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 67th Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., April 18 to 25, 2015.

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