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New methods to diagnose Parkinson's

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Chang Gung Memorial Hospital yesterday released a report of AV-133 PET scans, the most advanced means of analyzing Parkinson's disease, which were published in an international medical journal.

According to the report, the AV-133 PET scans allow physicians to discover the disease in its earlier and less obvious stages, and also provide a clearer diagnosis of the severity of the disease.

The hospital's Neuroscience Research Center (NRC) and Animal Molecular Imaging Center conducted a joint research and developed the AV-133 PET scan. According to NRC Chief Lu Chin-song (陸清松), Parkinson's disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system, which results from the death of dopamine-generating cells in the substantia nigra, a region of the midbrain. “The disease is mostly genetic,” said Lu.

Early in the course of the disease, which usually strikes people over 60, the most obvious symptoms are movement-related, including uncontrollable shaking, rigidity, and slowness in movement and difficulty in walking. In the next stage, thinking and behavioral problems become more frequent for the patients; with dementia and depression surfacing at the advanced stages of the disease.

There are approximately 30,000 to 40,000 Parkinson patients in Taiwan currently, and more cases are being diagnosed as the population is aging.

According to the hospital's Animal Molecular Imaging Center, the research on AV-133 PET scans have begun in 2009, and more than 300 cases have been completed in the recent five years. The first stage of the scans have been used on human brains with successful results, while the second stage scans are able to differentiate normal aging symptoms from Parkinson's disease.

“The strong point of the AV-133 PET scans is that it produces clearer images that show details sharply ... doctors will be able to diagnose the disease in its earliest stage, when there are no symptoms at all. The scan is also helpful to evaluate conditions like depression, dementia and mental abnormalities ... etc,” said Lu.

“The deterioration in every stage of Parkinson's disease can be seen clearly through the AV-133 scans; this allows physicians to keep tabs on the treatment efficiency closely, and increases the accuracy of the prescriptions,” said Lu. “Even gambling addictions and shopaholic symptoms can be diagnosed by the scans too,” Lu added.

People are advised to take notice of any irregularities in their everyday behavior; allotriosmia, nightmare-induced sleep-talking may also be the symptoms of Parkinson's disease, even when scans cannot show any signs of dopamine-generating cell deterioration.

The hospital's development of AV-133 PET scans was published in the 2014 January edition of the Journal of Nuclear Medicine.

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An imag of the Chang Gung Memorial Hospital's report of AV-133 PET scans are shown in this photo. According to the report, the AV-133 PET scans allow physicians to discover the disease in its earlier and less obvious stages, also providing a clearer diagnosis of the severity of the disease. (CNA)

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