Skip to Content Skip to Navigation
9th November 2021

SA-First Imaging Technology To Improve Parkinson’s Diagnosis

18F DOPA imaging technology Parkinsons diagnosis scaled 1

New collaboration providing state-of-the-art imaging technology in South Australia

Diagnosing a gradual neurological condition such as Parkinson’s is set to be significantly improved with a new collaborative imaging centre being established thanks to a $280,000 grant from Parkinson’s SA/NT through The Hospital Research Foundation Group.

The Parkinson’s Disease Imaging Biomarker Collaboration brings together researchers and clinicians from SAHMRI, SA Health and the University of Adelaide to translate state-of-the-art MRI techniques and advanced image analysis from research to clinical care.

The team will deploy a statewide network for 18F-DOPA PET/CT scanning and maximise its future benefit through a Parkinson’s Disease Imaging Biobank.

Dr Andrew Dwyer, Head of Imaging at SAHMRI, said no other 18F-DOPA imaging technology is available in South Australia, either for clinical diagnosis or research applications.

“Improving diagnostics and prognostics for neurological conditions requires advanced biomarkers and personalised phenotypes which incorporate functional imaging such as PET/CT scans,” Dr Dwyer said.

“To achieve this, collaboration across SA’s research ecosystem including university-based neuroscience groups, core imaging infrastructure at SAHMRI, clinical patient imaging within SA Medical Imaging and private providers is critical.”

“This proposal, generously supported by The Hospital Research Foundation Group and Parkinson’s SA/NT, will improve South Australia’s scale by leveraging existing facilities and opportunities to harmonise research programs in Parkinson’s.”

When motor symptoms first start to appear for people with Parkinson’s, 60-80% of dopamine within the striatum (in the brain) has already been lost, limiting the effectiveness of treatments.

Woman smiling at camera for headshot photo

Parkinson’s SA/NT CEO Olivia Nassaris

Parkinson’s SA /NT Executive Director Olivia Nassaris said access to this advanced imaging would have a huge impact on the Parkinson’s community.

“One in every 308 people suffer from Parkinson’s. Early diagnosis and treatment is paramount to reduce the risk of disease progression, limiting the effects on quality of life and lowering long-term treatment costs,” Olivia said.

“Functional imaging may spare inappropriate pharmacotherapy, patient anxiety and have particular value in certain situations like atypical, mild or early onset Parkinson’s.

“We’re excited to be bringing this technology to South Australia in a cost-efficient method to benefit the Parkinson’s community now and into the future.”

Helping people like Gerry and Lola Hede

This exciting collaboration and research centre is set to benefit people like Gerry and Lola Hede, who sadly know all too well how uncertain the path to a Parkinson’s diagnosis can be.

Gerry was originally diagnosed with Parkinson’s for about 4-5 years, before he was re-diagnosed with Atypical Parkinsonism for 2-3 years and then again re-diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

Lola said it was likely that Gerry was under-medicated as a result.

“This was a very upsetting time for us – particularly thinking that Gerry could have been enjoying a better quality of life and wellbeing if his diagnosis was accurate. The accuracy of his prescribed medications would have flowed on from that,” Lola said.

“This is an excellent addition to the path to diagnosis and would spare people the uncertainty of what we went through.”

Donate Support Line: 1800 644 189