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Parkinson's Research Project

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About Marty Edwards

My journey with Parkinson's

At the age of 41, I left my doctor’s office with a Parkinson’s diagnosis, a prescription for medication, an appointment for three months’ time and an absence of hope…

Six years later, I was ‘lucky’ to be considered for a relatively new procedure where wires are placed deep in one’s brain and these are connected to a rechargeable battery in one’s chest which electrically stimulate Dopamine production.  This Dopamine masks the trademark symptoms of the disease and aims to dramatically improving one’s quality of life.

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive brain disorder that is primarily characterised by problems with movement.

The disease affects a brain region called the substantia nigra and part of this brain region, called nigrosome-1, can be seen on an MRI scan.

The MRI appearance of nigrosome-1 is abnormal in patients with Parkinson’s disease and this abnormal MRI feature can aid diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. The current MRI nigrosome-1 procedure involves a radiologist subjectively rating the appearance of nigrosome-1 as normal or abnormal, and intensive training and practice is required for this.

Obtaining the necessary training is difficult because the technique is relatively new and radiologists have limited exposure to normal images.  Researchers and clinicians from the Flinders Medical Centre and University of South Australia are working together to develop a new quantitative and simple-to-use MRI procedure for assessing the appearance of nigrosome-1.

The new method will substantially reduce the amount of subjectivity involved in the process and the amount of training required. The team is also collecting MRI images from a large cohort of healthy adults to more accurately define what nigrosome-1 normally looks like in order to make it easier for radiologists to measure and interpret abnormal clinical findings. The normative data will also be used to investigate the effect of age and sex on this imaging biomarker to facilitate more accurate interpretation of clinical findings.

The new MRI method, and better normative data, will make it easier for clinicians and radiologists to introduce and use nigrosome-1 MRI in routine clinical practice to aid more accurate and earlier diagnoses of Parkinson’s disease.

Written by Associate Professor Gabrielle Todd – Research Project Director.

Silver Lining Wines

Supporting Parkinson's research

This project will increase patient access to cutting edge diagnostic imaging in both metro and regional communities throughout Australia and other countries. It will enable faster diagnosis of PD and earlier commencement of effective treatment.

In other words, hope…