To date, there is no definitive test for Parkinson's disease (PD) but Michael Schlossmacher, Canada Research Chair and associate professor at uOttawa and The Ottawa Hospital, is hoping that he and his team can change that.
believes that the level of alpha-synuclein in spinal fluid decreases as PD progresses.
can prove it, the team will have created the first lab-based yardstick or "biomarker" for different stages of the disease.
"We urgently need something more objective than patients telling us, 'I can't get out of bed now' or doctors estimating the degree of stiffness in a patient's limb," says Schlossmacher
Having arrived at uOttawa
last year from Harvard University
is delighted to be working in Canada where he
receives generous support from the Canada Research Chair program and uOttawa
is now looking for additional funding to confirm his
team's findings in more patients.
"Pharmaceutical companies have a vested interest in such a test," says Schlossmacher
"They are sorely in need of a reliable biomarker that demonstrates whether new drugs interfere with the process of the disease."
For drug companies, a diagnosis based on this test would cut the cost of clinical trials.
It would prevent patients with related diseases from being accidentally included in clinical trials, distorting results and delaying the development of new therapies.
"Now we know what the culprit is and how to measure it," says Schlossmacher