Prevention of Parkinson's Disease
With so little known about what actually causes Parkinson's disease, it is difficult to come up with ways to prevent it. However, researchers are now looking for a biomarker -- a biochemical abnormality that all people with Parkinson's disease might share -- that could be picked up by screening techniques or by a simple chemical test given to people who do not have any Parkinson's disease symptoms.
Positron emission tomography (PET) scanning may lead to important advances in our knowledge about Parkinson's disease. PET scans of the brain produce pictures of chemical changes as they occur in the living brain. Using PET, research scientists can study the brain's dopamine receptors (the sites on nerve cells that bind with dopamine) to determine if the loss of dopamine activity follows or precedes degeneration of the neurons that make this chemical.
This information could help Parkinson's disease research scientists better understand the disease process and may potentially lead to improved treatments and eventually prevention of Parkinson's disease.