A surge in Parkinson’s diagnoses is expected for people over the age of 60.
Parkinson’s UK’s latest figures show that there are currently more than 77,000 people in the UK with Parkinson’s between the ages of 60 and 79. This is projected to increase by 20 percent by the year 2025 to more than 92,000. Currently, there is no cure and treatments are limited.
In response to this shocking rise, Parkinson’s UK is funding the largest ever study to determine whether it is possible to predict Parkinson’s.
The UK-wide research project, led by Queen Mary University of London and University College London, is seeking 10,000 people aged between 60 and 80 who do not have Parkinson’s to find indicators present in the very earliest stages of the condition – before diagnosis.
The charity says that earlier diagnosis could open up exciting new avenues to test treatments that may slow or stop the condition – something no current treatment can do.
Doctor Alastair Noyce, from the Preventive Neurology Unit at Queen Mary University of London, said:
At the moment, by the time we’ve diagnosed someone, they’ve already lost 50 percent of the brain cells that die as a result of Parkinson’s.
One of the reasons we have yet to identify a drug that can slow or stop Parkinson’s is because we can’t test these treatments early enough, when they’re likely to have the greatest impact: the more surviving brain cells that are left, the more effective potential treatments may be.”
Professor Anette Schrag, from University College London, added:
Predicting Parkinson’s would allow us to identify people in those crucial early stages, helping us to develop and deliver new and better treatments.”
Participants will be asked to complete a series of simple web-based tasks, including a keyboard tapping test to detect subtle changes in movement, which can be an early symptom, and a series of questions about potential indicators of Parkinson’s, such as disrupted sleep patterns. Participants will also receive a ‘scratch-and-sniff’ test pack in the post, which will determine any loss of a sense of smell, another early indicator.
Parkinson’s UK chief executive Steve Ford said:
This study is a fantastic opportunity to get involved in ground-breaking research that could transform the lives of so many.
Parkinson’s is a ticking time bomb. At the moment, one person in every 350 has Parkinson’s – that’s about 145,000 people in the UK, and these levels are set to rise by 20 per cent by 2025.
Through studies like this that are easy to take part in, people have an opportunity to make a real difference to everyone who is living with Parkinson’s now and who might be diagnosed in the future.
If you don’t qualify, don’t worry – nominate your mum, your dad, or your gran to take part. Everyone can help make a difference!”