Findings from a new study suggest that a blood test to find a substance in the blood called "phosphorylated alpha-synuclein" can be used to detect Parkinson's disease before symptoms appear.

The findings were published in the December issue of The FASEB Journal.

"A blood test for Parkinson's disease would mean you could find out if a person was in danger of getting the disease, before the symptoms started," said David Allsop, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Division of Biomedical and Life Sciences and the School of Health and Medicine at the University of Lancaster, in Lancaster, UK.

Dr. Allsop and colleagues studied group of people diagnosed with Parkinson’s and compared blood samples to those without the disease. The comparison is used to determine the level of phosphorylated alpha-synuclein, a protein found in neural tissues, in the brain.

Researchers were able to develop a blood test based on information that people with Parkinson's disease had increased levels of phosphorylated alpha-synuclein.

The blood test can allow diagnosis of Parkinson's disease well before any symptoms appear.

"Having a blood test not only helps doctors rule out other possible causes of the outward symptoms, but it also allows for early detection which can help patients and their caregivers prepare for the possibility of the mental, emotional, and behavioral problems that the disease can cause," said Dr. Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of the FASEB journal.