Parkinson's, a progressive disease characterized by involuntary muscle shaking and caused by a loss of neurons in certain key brain areas, affects as many as one million Americans, with approximately 60,000 Americans being diagnosed annually.
Although the condition currently has no cure, scientists have discovered that levels of a particular enzyme found in the urine of Parkinson's sufferers can be used to predict the severity of their symptoms. These researchers believe this discovery could be the key to improvement in tracking the impact of experimental treatments for the disease, according to IFLScience.com.
Pulished in the journal Neurology earlier this year, the study revealed that those who suffer from the condition have elevated levels of an enzyme called Ser(P)-1292 LRRK2 in their urine. This is caused by a genetic mutation of the LRRK2 enzyme. While LRRK2 is typically found in the central nervous system, "the study authors discovered that urine contains certain types of membrane-bound bubbles called exosomes, which enclose a variety of compounds released by cells throughout the body. Among the contents of these exosomes, they discovered LRRK2," according to IFLScience.
Upon analyzing the urine of their subjects, the reasearchers found that elevated levels of Ser(P)-1292 LRRK2 (the mutated enzyme) were found in the urine of those with Parkinson's disease. A follow up study showed that the levels of this enzyme correlated with the severity of the patient's symptoms.