Researchers from King's College London have uncovered the earliest signs of Parkinson's in the brain, long before any symptoms are evident. The results could potentially lead to screening tools for identifying people at greatest risk - an important area of research interest.

The new study, funded by the Lily Safra Foundation, provides the first evidence of a central role for the brain chemical serotonin in the very earliest stages of Parkinson's. The results suggest changes to the serotonin system could act as a key early warning signal for the disease.

Our Deputy Head of Research Simon Stott notes,

The new research is exciting, but more research is needed. The subjects involved in the study carry a very rare genetic mutation in their DNA (called A53T SNCA) that makes them vulnerable to developing Parkinson's and further studies need to determine whether this reduced serotonin activity before loss of dopamine activity applies to the rest of the Parkinson's community.  However, if validated, this approach could represent a powerful tool for screening and monitoring individuals both at risk and in clinical trials. This is particularly useful for The Cure Parkinson's Trust as we seek to evaluate Linked Clinical Trials drugs earlier in people at risk - slowing/preventing the onset of the condition before they develop Parkinson's.

Further reading:

Study reveals roots of Parkinson's in the brain - KING'S COLLEGE LONDON