Testing for Parkinson's disease

Testing for Parkinson’s disease

Researchers receive grant to study possible Parkinson’s disease biomarker

By Paige Parrinelli

Could tiny particles undetectable to the eye improve how Parkinson’s disease is diagnosed?

Kate Candelario, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow with the Evelyn L. and William F. McKnight Brain Institute of the University of Florida, has received $139,571 from the Michael J. Fox Foundation to study cell membrane particles called microvesicles, which play a part in the communication between cells. Her research focuses on identifying neural microvesicles in a patient’s cerebrospinal fluid or blood, with the hopes that it could be used as a way to diagnose Parkinson’s disease.

Candelario said her research involves taking a skin cell sample from a patient with Parkinson’s disease and then changing the skin cells into stem cells. The stem cells are then grown in a culture, where they then become more specialized neural cells, a process called differentiation. Candelario will then observe the microvesicles produced from the artificially made neural cells to see if there is a difference between microvesicles in a Parkinson’s disease patient and those from individuals who do not have Parkinson’s disease.

Candelario also hopes to identify microvesicles created from neural cells. Blood and other fluids contain microvesicles from all over the body. By being able to pick out the microvesicles that originate from neural cells from other microvesicles, doctors will possibly have a biomarker that will help them to diagnose Parkinson’s disease patients. This is particularly important because there is currently no objective test to make a definitive diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, according to the Michael J. Fox Foundation.