Page last updated at 10:39 GMT, Saturday, 14 February 2009

Light 'could detect Parkinson's'

Brain
The technique allows researchers to map iron levels in individual brain cells

A light as bright as a million-watt bulb could help improve the treatment of Parkinson's disease.

A Keele University team told a conference that the "super-microscope" could spot changes in brain cells caused by Parkinson's

Keele's Dr Joanna Collingwood hopes the information will eventually be used to speed up diagnosis.

She gave details of the study to the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

'Early diagnosis'

Dr Collingwood said the team had been using a synchrotron at the Diamond Light Source (DLS) at Harwell, Oxfordshire.

The device is a large doughnut-shaped particle accelerator, the size of five football pitches, which fires particles at just below the speed of light, focusing them into a beam less than a single cell in diameter.

It allows researchers to to observe iron levels in individual brain cells, which are affected by Parkinson's.

Dr Collingwood told the AAAS conference in Chicago: "We have been able to investigate human tissue with such precision that metal ions, particularly iron levels, in and around individual cells can be mapped.

"The technique is pioneering in that it does not change the distribution or form of the metals in the tissue being studied."

She said she hoped that the team's work could help doctors detect early signs of Parkinson's using MRI.

"Early diagnosis is key because we know that by the time a typical individual presents with the symptoms of the disease, chemical changes have already caused significant cell death of vulnerable motor neurons," she added.

Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Brain probed in Parkinson's study
03 Feb 09 |  Edinburgh, East and Fife
Parkinson's linked to vitamin D
13 Oct 08 |  Health

RELATED BBC LINKS

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific