Robert Ferris, CNBC reported last week that scientists from several institutions in the United States and Europe showed how changing the bacteria in the guts of mice affected the manifestation of Parkinson's symptoms — even including bacteria taken from the guts of humans with the disease. "The findings suggest a new way of treating the disease: The best target for treatment may be the gut, rather than the brain. The researchers hope the new information can be used to develop "next generation" probiotics, more sophisticated than the sort of probiotics found on the shelves of health food stores today. " The scientists published their findings Thursday in the journal Cell.
Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder where brain cells accumulate excessive amounts of a protein called alpha-synuclein and then begin to die off. Patients lose motor function, experience tremors and shaking, and suffer other physical and mental effects. One million people in the U.S. and up to 10 million worldwide suffer from the condition. It's considered the world's second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer's.It is not usually the result of genetics, most often, it seems to be influenced by environmental factors, scientists report. Previous research has suggested connections between gut bacteria and Parkinson's, as well as other autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis. But no research has shown exactly how the two might be related...until now.
In other words, they were looking to see if even germ-free mice would show symptoms if the researchers mimicked gut bacteria activity. And this time, the germ-free mice did show symptoms of the disease in the brain when fed the chemicals. This suggested that the chemicals certain types of gut bacteria produce worsen conditions in the brain.
Finally, the team did a third experiment where they took samples of gut bacteria from human Parkinson's patients and from healthy human controls and transplanted them into the germ-free mice that overexpressed alpha-synuclein. Remarkably, the mice began to exhibit symptoms. However, only the bacteria from the Parkinson's patients caused symptoms in the mice. The germ-free mice given samples from healthy humans did not produce symptoms."
Scientists find the third experiment most telling. "At first pass, what this tells you is that it is not the presence or absence of bacteria that matters, it is the types of organisms that are there." Read the full article here. CNBC Article: Parkinsons linked to Gut Bacteria
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