The first steps toward the early detection of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases with a simple skin test have been made.

Although there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, there are treatments, therapies and lifestyle changes that may help slow down its progression and help deal with some of the symptoms, so it is crucial to be able to detect it as early as possible. Since changes in the brain that lead to Alzheimer’s disease may begin many years before symptoms begin to show, there are many people working to make breakthroughs in the development of an early diagnosis.

According to a Time magazine article published Feb. 24, 2015, scientists at Central Hospital in University of San Luis Potosi in Mexico may have made one such discovery.

In a study led by Dr. Ildefonso Rodriguez-Leyva, differences were found in skin biopsies of patients with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases when compared to healthy patients as well as those with age-related dementia. The results of those with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases had much higher levels of certain abnormal proteins associated with the degenerative brain disorders. The study only involved a small group of patients, so more research is needed, but the results are promising for both early detection and possible treatments.

Dr. Rodriguez-Leyva: “This skin test opens the possibility to see abnormal proteins in the skin before central nervous system symptoms, cognitive or motor deficits, appear.”

The results of the study will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C. in April.

Click here for the full Time magazine article

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