January 07, 2005

New Test for Parkinson's and Schizophrenia

New Test May Detect Parkinson's Disease and Schizophrenia Early, and
Aid Search for Drugs


The Wall Street Journal reported this morning that Pfizer has developed a relatively simple computer-based speach analysis test that, in initial tests, appears able to diagnose Parkinsons disease and schizophrenia.

The Journal reports that:

"Now scientists at drug giant Pfizer think they have stumbled on a simple test that is both sensitive enough to detect subtle biological changes due to Parkinson's [and schizophrenia] and specific enough to avoid false alarms: analyzing how people speak. If further studies confirm their conclusion, the test could offer a more accurate way to diagnose Parkinson's before large numbers of brain cells are irreversibly lost, and speed the development of new drugs for the disease.

The Pfizer researchers ... believed it might be possible to detect the illness by analyzing speech patterns. In Parkinson's, the characteristic decline in muscle control stems from the loss of dopamine-producing nerve cells in the substantia nigra, a compact region in the middle of the brain. Building on insights from other scientists, Pfizer researchers reasoned that hesitation and hitches later seen in the movement of large muscles might be apparent earlier in shaking or trembling of the tiny muscles involved in speech, including the vocal cords."

Pfizer doesn't plan to market the speech test itself but may explore licensing the technology to other companies. Its goal is to find drugs that would change the course of Schizophrenia and Parkinson's and related diseases by protecting nerve cells.

Pfizer neuroscientist Peter Snyder acknowledges that his method must be validated in further tests before it can be used routinely. But in the meantime, his team has successfully applied the speech test to patients with depression and schizophrenia (in addition to Parkinson's Disease), all of which are diseases that can involve abnormal levels of dopamine in the brain.


I have had really bad dreams about being in a mental institution and hearing a voice call my name. I always feel like someone is watching me everywhere I go

Posted by: April at September 20, 2006 11:40 AM

hi i have a mum that has skitsofrenea and i was just wondering if i can catch it off her becoz when i was last living with her she was pretty messed around and hearing things and then i started hearing things aswell like a man would say "go see your mum she might be in danger" and i wouldnt and so it would come back again saying "if you dont she will die".
or it would tell me that ppl were following me.
so just stuff like that...morals.
so if you could write to me to see if i do that would be very helpfull.

Posted by: jessica at November 21, 2006 05:15 PM

Hello my father is 78 and has had parkinsons disease for 7 years recently about 4 months ago he has been having hallucinations, hearing voices, a man telling him to do things. He has just recently been admitted to hospital due to violent behaviour and a serious change in personality. He was taking madopar and miropexin. Have any other people experienced this with relatives or themselves.

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