Researchers identify new biomarker for Parkinson's disease in patients' urine

Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham found the LRRK2 protein in the urine of Parkinson's patients, suggesting that the biomarker might act as a possible guide for future clinical treatments and a monitor of the efficacy of potential new drugs in real time during treatment.

"Nobody thought we'd be able to measure the activity of this huge protein called LRRK2 (pronounced lark two) in biofluids since it is usually found inside neurons in the brain," said Andrew West, professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in the US.

For over five years, urine and cerebral-spinal fluid samples from patients with Parkinson's disease had been locked in freezers in the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) National Repository, with hopes of some day being helpful in unravelling the slow progression of the neurodegenerative disease.

"New biochemical markers like the one we've discovered together with new neuroimaging approaches are going to be the key to successfully stopping Parkinson's disease in its tracks,'' West said.

"I think the days of blindly testing new therapies for complex diseases like Parkinson's without having active feedback both for 'on-target' drug effects and for effectiveness in patients are thankfully coming to an end," West noted.