According to a story from news-medical.net, a team of scientists from Delaware have recently released a study in the journal BMC Bioinformatics. In this study, the researchers found that patters of DNA in circulating blood cells can help identify patients with spastic cerebral palsy. This discovery could help facilitate earlier diagnosis; while people are born with the disease, diagnosis can sometimes be significantly delayed for two years or more.
About Spastic Cerebral Palsy
Spastic cerebral palsy is by far the most common type of cerebral palsy. Spasticity refers to the fact that this muscle condition is the sole cause of disability in patients. A spastic muscle is less mobile, and is far more stiff and tight than it normally would be at rest. This can affect one side of the body, the lower half of the body, or all four limbs. The cause of spastic cerebral palsy is a lesion in the area of the brain that is responsible for upper neuron function. About 90 percent of cerebral palsy patients have this type. Some patients may also experience seizures. Treatment include occupational and physical therapy, as well as antispasmodic medicines. To learn more about spastic cerebral palsy, click here.
Study Method and Findings
The fact that cerebral palsy is still mostly diagnosed by monitoring motor development is a testament to how understudied the illness actually is. In the study the team collected samples from young people aged 9-19 in order to see if there was anything different about the blood of patients with spastic cerebral palsy. The researchers were able to identify several patterns that suggest that patients with the disease have significant changes to their genome in comparison to people without the illness.
In another sample of group children aged 2-5 years, the scientists were able to predict with 73 percent success rate which sample came from cerebral palsy patients using the patterns that they had recognized in the first group of samples.
Dr. Erin Crowgey, one of the members of the research team, believes that the patterns in the genome of patients could be used as part of a diagnostic blood test that could take place at birth. This would allow for much earlier diagnosis, and, as a result, earlier intervention and better outcomes for patients.