Experts from the California Institute of Technology discovered that gut bacteria might influence the development of Parkinson’s disease.
The team has conducted an extensive study to find out whether there is a connection between Parkinson’s disease and gut microbes. Experts thought until recently that Parkinson’s originated in the brain.
The researchers administered in a group of mice gut bacteria from Parkinson’s patients. Then, they injected in other mice gut bacteria from healthy patients. Based on the findings, the mice from the first group started experiencing the symptoms related to Parkinson’s disease, whereas those in the other group remained healthy.
“This research reveals that a neurodegenerative disease may have its origins in the gut and not only in the brain as had been previously thought,” says Dr. Sarkis Mazmanian, lead researcher from the California Institute of Technology.
He underlines that this groundbreaking discovery might lead the way to new treatments. More precisely, if the experts conclude that there is a clear association between gut bacteria and Parkinson’s disease, then they will focus on developing medications to treat altered gut microbiome.
Parkinson’s is a degenerative brain disorder which occurs when a specific protein called alpha-synuclein builds up in the brain of the patient. The scientists said that the mice involved in the study were genetically identical, and the only difference was the gut microbes administered in them.
The gut microbes play a major role in the process of food digestion. Scientists underlined that their study didn’t find a cause and effect link between the gut microbiome and Parkinson’s disease, but that they might be connected.
Therefore, they will continue their investigation to find out more about this potential link. James Beck, Vice President at the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation who was not involved in the research, says that this study will play a major role in future medical advances, including the development of new therapies.
There are approximately one million Americans and ten million people throughout the world living with Parkinson’s disease.
The common symptoms include rigid muscles, tremor, and movement problems. Although the progression of Parkinson’s disease can be slowed, the symptoms will eventually worsen. Around 60,000 Americans are diagnosed every year with this degenerative brain condition.
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