Scientists just made a fascinating discovery that could help fight off Parkinson's.

Researchers in Australia believe they've discovered something that could be a flying leap forward in the battle against Parkinson's disease:

Photo by Jens Maus/Wikimedia Commons.


The breakthrough? A way to detect the disease using a simple blood test.

Photo by PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay.

If they're right, this would be a big bleeping deal.

According to the Parkinson's Disease Foundation, currently there is no uniform method of testing for the condition. Prospective patients are observed by a neurologist for symptoms that indicate brain cell loss has already begun.

A blood test, like the one developed by the La Trobe University team, could detect the disease before symptoms show up, allowing patients to start treatment before they suffer too much irreversible damage.

How does the test work?

Photo by JPC24M/Flickr.

Science.

No, seriously. How does it work?

The research team discovered that Parkinson's causes cell mitochondria — which the faint, half-remembered voice of your ninth-grade biology teacher is currently reminding you is the "power plant of the cell" — to become hyperactive.

The test scans for byproducts of the abnormally behaving mitochondria.

As always, there's still lots more work to do.

Speaking to The Guardian, lead researcher Paul Fisher said his team didn't have the financial resources to study whether the hyperactive mitochondria detected by the test are entirely specific to Parkinson's or also occur in others with similar neurological conditions.

They've also run only one trial to date.

But it's the kind of discovery that provides a lot of hope to a lot of people.

Actor Michael J. Fox's foundation provided funding for the research that led to the discovery of the test. Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images.

In addition to the estimated 500,000 to 1 million people with Parkinson's in the U.S. (about 60,000 new Parkinson's patients are diagnosed annually) and the 7 million to 10 million with it worldwide, there are also millions more people whose family history puts them at a greater risk to develop it.

Early detection might be the key to helping them live longer, healthier lives.

Actor and longtime anti-Parkinson's advocate Michael J. Fox's foundation provided funding for the research, once again proving that when you give money to science, science gives you back something awesome.

No flying cars yet.

GIF from "Back to the Future"/Universal.

But I'll take showing a debilitating disease who's boss any day of the week.

Heroes
Courtesy of Houseplant.

In America, one dumb mistake can hang over your head forever.

Nearly 30% of the American adult population — about 70 million people — have at least one criminal conviction that can prevent them from being treated equally when it comes to everything from job and housing opportunities to child custody.

Twenty million of these Americans have felony convictions that can destroy their chances of making a comfortable living and prevents them from voting out the lawmakers who imprisoned them.

Many of these convictions are drug-related and stem from the War on Drugs that began in the U.S. '80s. This war has unfairly targeted the minority community, especially African-Americans.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

Climate change is happening because the earth is warming at an accelerated rate, a significant portion of that acceleration is due to human activity, and not taking measures to mitigate it will have disastrous consequences for life as we know it.

In other words: Earth is heating up, it's kinda our fault, and if we don't fix it, we're screwed.

This is the consensus of the vast majority of the world's scientists who study such things for a living. Case closed. End of story.

How do we know this to be true? Because pretty much every reputable scientific organization on the planet has examined and endorsed these conclusions. Thousands of climate studies have been done, and multiple peer-reviewed studies have been done on those studies, showing that somewhere between 84 and 97 percent of active climate science experts support these conclusions. In fact, the majority of those studies put the consensus well above 90%.

Keep Reading Show less
Nature
via James Anderson

Two years ago, a tweet featuring the invoice for a fixed boiler went viral because the customer, a 91-year-old woman with leukemia, received the services for free.

"No charge for this lady under any circumstances," the invoice read. "We will be available 24 hours to help her and keep her as comfortable as possible."

The repair was done by James Anderson, 52, a father-of-five from Burnley, England. "James is an absolute star, it was overwhelming to see that it cost nothing," the woman's daughter told CNN.

Keep Reading Show less
Heroes

I live in a family with various food intolerances. Thankfully, none of them are super serious, but we are familiar with the challenges of finding alternatives to certain foods, constantly checking labels, and asking restaurants about their ingredients.

In our family, if someone accidentally eats something they shouldn't, it's mainly a bit of inconvenient discomfort. For those with truly life-threatening food allergies, the stakes are much higher.

I can't imagine the ongoing stress of deadly allergy, especially for parents trying to keep their little ones safe.

Keep Reading Show less
popular