Researchers at the University of San Luis Potosi in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, are developing a skin test that could someday be used to detect Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.
The initial study used skin biopsies from 20 people diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, 16 with Parkinson's disease and 17 with dementia caused by other conditions. When compared to the skin of healthy individuals of the same age, those diagnosed with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's had seven times higher levels of a protein called Tau, which the National Institutes of Health has recognized as being associated with brain-destroying disorders.
"Until now, pathological confirmation was not possible without a brain biopsy, so these diseases often go unrecognized until after the disease has progressed," said study author Ildefonso Rodriguez-Leyva, MD, in a press release. "We hypothesized that since skin has the same origin as brain tissue while in the embryo that they might also show the same abnormal proteins. This new test offers a potential biomarker that may allow doctors to identify and diagnose these diseases earlier on."