Photo of Parkinson's patient holding young person's hand Photo of Parkinson's patient holding young person's hand Up to 10 million people worldwide are living with Parkinson's disease. (Photo: Ocskay Mark / Shutterstock)

Early detection of Parkinson's is key to saving lives, and one student is leading the way

A new tool for diagnosing the disease is showing great promise.

Parkinson's disease is one of the world's most common neurogenerative disorders. It's also one of the hardest to diagnose because it tends to mimic other conditions, especially in the early stages. There's currently no formal diagnostic test for the disease.

What if there was a way to detect Parkinson's in its early stages that was not only effective and accurate, but also track the progression of the disease to find the best treatment for each patient?

That's the goal of a pioneering Ph.D student at Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel. Her name is Suaad Abd-Elhadi, and she just developed a diagnostic tool that could lead to earlier diagnosis and better treatment. She named it ELISA, which stands for "enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay."

PHOTO OF HEBREW UNIVERSITY DOCTORAL STUDENT AND KAYE INNOVATION AWARD WINNER SUAAD ABD-ELHADI.PhD student Suaad Abd-Elhadi developed the lipid ELISA, an approach that could lead to earlier detection of Parkinson's, along with better tracking of the disease's progression and a patient's response to therapy. (Photo: Hebrew University)

An assay is a lab procedure that assesses the presence, amount and activity of a particular substance. Abd-Elhadi used that approach to develop a simple and highly sensitive diagnostic tool that can distinguish healthy subjects from Parkinson's-affected ones.

After publishing her work last week, Abd-Elhadi won a Kaye Innovation Award, an annual recognition by Hebrew University for development of innovative methods and inventions. She's now working to get ELISA ready for commercial use.

And for the 7 million to 10 million people living with Parkinson's around the world – one of whom could be your parent, grandparent or other loved one – that innovative method could mean a healthier, longer life.

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