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PARS Study - Olfactory Testing Combined with Dopamine Transporter Imaging (DAT) Are Early Detectors for Parkinson’s Disease

STOCKHOLM – Individuals with the loss of olfactory senses combined with a deficit in Dopamine Transporter (DAT) imaging will likely develop clinical signs of Parkinson’s disease (PD), according to a study released today at the 18th International Congress of Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders.

Danna Jennings, of the Institute for Neurodegenerative Disorders in New Haven, CT, and colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania, developed the Parkinson Associated Risk Syndrome (PARS) study to identify a large-scale cohort of individuals ‘at risk’ for PD using olfactory testing and DAT imaging. Subjects in the study completed baseline and returned for two and four-year clinical evaluations, performed by investigators blind to clinical data. Among individuals with a reduced ability to smell with DAT deficit, none were diagnosed with PD at baseline. However, 28% had phenoconverted, or developed motor signs sufficient for diagnosis of PD, by the second year, and 46% had phenoconverted by the fourth year.

Anthony Lang, Director of the Movement Disorders Clinic at Toronto Western Hospital states, “Evaluating this ‘enriched’ population, the investigators of the PARS trial demonstrated that 46% of individuals with loss of sense of smell combined with a deficit on the DAT scan develop the clinical features of Parkinson's disease within four years. It is likely that ongoing follow-up will show further ‘phenoconversion to PD’ of many of the remaining individuals fulfilling these criteria.” Lang adds, “The knowledge that comes from this study will have important implications to the recruitment of individuals for future neuroprotective trials that will hopefully have a greater chance of success than previous efforts that exclusively involved patients whose disease had already evolved to the stage of manifesting the clinical features of Parkinson's disease.”

About the 18th International Congress of Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders:
Meeting attendees are gathered to learn the latest research findings and state-of-the-art treatment options in Movement Disorders, including Parkinson's disease. Over 4,000 physicians and medical professionals from more than 80 countries will be able to view over 1,600 scientific abstracts submitted by clinicians from around the world.

About the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society:
The International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society (MDS), an international society of over 4,500 clinicians, scientists, and other healthcare professionals, is dedicated to improving patient care through education and research. For more information about MDS, visit