Researchers call for a neurological disease paradigm shift

Early disease identification

The authors argue that for research purposes, patients should be classified by the presence or absence of these three factors. This would allow the identification of Parkinson’s patients before symptoms appear, and aid the development of treatments tailored to patients’ unique biology. Right now, patients are diagnosed based on symptoms and signs, even though the disease may have been present in their brain for many years . By shifting classification criteria, researchers can identify disease earlier (even before people may experience symptoms), and target specific patient groups that have more in common with each other biologically, giving drug development a higher chance of success.

“Although this is still for research purposes, this is a major shift in thinking,” said Dr Ron Postuma, a clinician-scientist at The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital) of McGill University and one of the study’s authors. “If you think of it, it’s quite unusual that we’ve had to wait until Parkinson’s patients have important symptoms before we could make a diagnosis. We don’t wait for someone to feel pain from cancer before we diagnose it. Instead, we detect and diagnose it, hopefully before someone is aware of any symptoms. This research classification is a critical step towards bringing our thinking about
Parkinson’s into the 21st century.”

1. Günter U. Höglinger et al. A biological classification of Parkinson’s disease: the SynNeurGe research diagnostic criteria. The Lancet Neurology. Jan. 22, 2024. doi: