Research discovers new cause of Parkinson’s disease

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Parkinson’s disease is a condition that affects about 8 million people all over the world.

It’s a disorder of the nervous system that mainly causes problems with movement, such as shaking, stiffness, and trouble with balance and coordination.

For many years, what causes Parkinson’s disease has remained a puzzle, but recent studies might be shedding light on some answers.

Researchers have been looking into how our gut health could influence Parkinson’s disease. Our guts are filled with trillions of bacteria, most of which are good for us.

They help with digestion, protect against bad bacteria, and can even impact how we feel. However, not all bacteria are beneficial, and some might play a role in diseases like Parkinson’s.

A key discovery came in 2021 when a team led by Professor Per Saris at the University of Helsinki identified a connection between Parkinson’s disease and a specific kind of gut bacteria named Desulfovibrio.

They noticed that people suffering from Parkinson’s had higher levels of this bacteria in their guts.

Interestingly, the more of these bacteria present, the more severe the symptoms of Parkinson’s appeared to be. This observation was also supported by similar findings from researchers in China.

This discovery is crucial because it shifts some focus away from genetics. While Parkinson’s can run in families, suggesting a genetic link, genetics only seem to explain about 10% of cases.

The majority are believed to be caused by environmental factors, like exposure to certain toxins or bacteria, including possibly Desulfovibrio.

The researchers conducted experiments using a simple worm, Caenorhabditis elegans, often used in scientific studies. They investigated whether the Desulfovibrio bacteria could directly cause Parkinson’s disease.

A hallmark of Parkinson’s is the formation of protein clumps called alpha-synuclein in the brain, which can harm nerve cells and lead to the disease’s symptoms.

The team found that Desulfovibrio from Parkinson’s patients could cause these harmful protein clumps to form in the worms, and these clumps were larger than those formed by strains of the bacteria from healthy people.

This finding opens up new possibilities for treating Parkinson’s disease. If Desulfovibrio bacteria are a cause, then removing these bacteria from the gut could potentially slow down or alleviate the symptoms by stopping the formation of harmful protein clumps.

While more research is necessary to confirm these results and develop treatments, this discovery offers a promising new direction for combating Parkinson’s disease. It also highlights the importance of a healthy gut microbiome for overall brain health.

The implications of this research are far-reaching, offering hope that managing or even preventing Parkinson’s disease might one day be as simple as controlling our gut bacteria.

This breakthrough not only advances our understanding of Parkinson’s disease but also underscores the broader significance of gut health in our overall well-being.

If you care about Parkinson’s disease, please read studies about Vitamin E that may help prevent Parkinson’s disease, and Vitamin D could benefit people with Parkinson’s disease.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about new way to treat Parkinson’s disease, and results showing COVID-19 may be linked to Parkinson’s disease.

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