First Blood Test to Determine Cognitive Impairment in Parkinson’s Disease Developed at Penn

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Media Contact:Kim Menard | kim.menard@uphs.upenn.edu | 215-662-6183 November 29, 2010

PHILADELPHIA –Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine’s Udall Center for Parkinson's Research have developed the first blood-based biomarker test to predict cognitive decline in Parkinson’s disease (PD). If results can be replicated and standardized in other Parkinson patients, by other investigators, the test could be a useful tool to use in selecting patients for the development of new drugs that can slow or prevent this complication of the disease.

After searching through a hundred different proteins found in blood plasma, researchers found that epidermal growth factor (EGF), a protein involved in regulating cell growth, proliferation, and differentiation, provided a strong biomarker signal for cognitive impairment in PD. The study determined that PD patients with low EGF levels and normal cognition were more likely to subsequently develop serious cognitive impairments during the 21-month median follow-up period. The study is published in the current issue of the Annals of Neurology.

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