Parkinson’s disease and multisystem trophy are diseases that resemble each other. Their symptoms are very similar, and research into their origins points in the same direction.
In addition, Parkinson’s disease and multisystem atrophy are neurodegenerative diseases that inevitably develop into more severe ones. So finding effective treatment also requires ways to diagnose these disorders as early as possible.
In February this year, Nature published an article stating that they have made progress in researching and diagnosing these diseases. Perhaps the most significant step forward is the method of diagnosis found by the University of Texas that makes it easier to distinguish between Parkinson’s disease and multisystem trophy (i.e., MSA).
Given the difficulties physicians face in diagnosing them at an early stage, progress may be significant. An accurate and timely diagnosis would allow treatment to be initiated at an early stage of the disease.
It is good to remember that so far the only way to know which disease is involved is to wait for the disease to develop.
From a clinical perspective, multisystem atrophy (MSA) develops faster than Parkinson’s disease. Thus, delaying diagnosis impairs patient prognosis. When the symptoms of the disease become too obvious, it indicates the spread of the disease. In the biological sense, a delay in diagnosis as well as treatment means that the disease progresses and destroys more neurons.
Let’s take a closer look.
What is Parkinson’s disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease. The most important sign of Parkinson’s disease is stiffness and impaired mobility. In Parkinson’s disease, it is typical for the patient’s hands and feet to tremble.
The further the disease progresses, the more difficult the movement becomes. Difficulties in movement extend to other parts of the body by increasing stiffness. This leads to imbalances, lack of coordination and slower completion of actions.
The chemical change that is known to be the immediate cause is a lack of dopamine. Dopamine is a substance that acts as a neurotransmitter. Its lack causes the symptoms of the disease.
It is more common in people over 60, and therefore age is considered one of the risk factors for this disease. In rare cases, this disease also occurs in adolescents. One of the most famous cases is actor Michael J. Fox, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at just 29 years old.
What is multisystem trophy (MSA)?
Multisystem trophy is also a neurodegenerative disorder. Like Parkinson’s disease, it is most prevalent in the elderly, in this case those over 50 years of age.
The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and multisystem trophy are very similar, including motor disorders. However, there is a significant aspect associated with this pathology, which is its ability to affect the body’s independent functions. As a result, patients suffer from arterial hypotension, constipation, urinary incontinence, arrhythmias, and abnormal breathing.
The cause of the multisystem trophy has not been identified. Research has not yet revealed an underlying problem that would cause the disease. However, we know that in this disease, neurons in the brain atrophy and are filled with a protein called alpha-synuclein.
Alpha-synuclein and a new study on multisystem trophy
The protein produced by the diseases that opens the door to differential diagnosis is alpha-synuclein. That protein is called aSyn. It is a substance that works incorrectly. As a result, it accumulates too much and damages neurons. When the error accumulation exceeds the normal limits, motor problems become apparent.
In both Parkinson’s disease and multisystem trophy, alpha-synuclein accumulates for years until it restricts neuronal function. The problem was that although the protein was detectable, we could not know with certainty whether the disease was progressing to Parkinson’s disease or multisystem trophy.
This new study, published in the journal Nature, and many other studies, suggest a biochemical method. It is also called cyclic protein folding amplification, which would separate the folds from each other. If the research progresses as desired, we will soon be able to use this method to diagnose neurodegenerative disorders.
The reported diagnostic sensitivity of the article is 95.4%, which exceeds all expectations. It would be a diagnostic test that would help achieve a timely diagnosis. In addition, it would speed up treatment plans without having to wait for the disease to differentiate to deal with one or another pathology.
Desirable progress for those with Parkinson’s disease or multiple system atrophy
Overall, neurodegenerative diseases are a major problem in society. In addition, the aging population has brought new aspects to these diseases, and their diagnosis and treatment are being studied all the time.
However, this new advance can improve the early diagnosis of these diseases. Thus, treatment of the disease can be started as soon as possible, which in turn slows the progression of the disease. For now, however, it is important to contact an expert if strange symptoms occur.