Gut Bacteria: Game-Changer for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's Treatments?

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Scientists have turned toward the human gastrointestinal tract in search of new strategies for treating brain disease.

At any given time, there are about 100 trillion microbes hanging out in the human gastrointestinal tract, and it has been known for some time that this is a significant factor in inflammation. But scientists are putting more and more pieces together when it comes to the microbiome's effects on brain health - especially relating to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's.

New research released today reveals links between the gut microbiome -- the population of microorganisms living in the gastrointestinal tract -- and brain diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, including potential new ways to track and treat these diseases. The studies were presented at Neuroscience 2017, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience and the world's largest source of emerging news about brain science and health.

A rat model of Parkinson's disease displays increased levels of an inflammatory protein in the colon, identifying a possible new biomarker for the disease

Nonhuman primates that received stomach injections of a protein associated with Parkinson's disease show signs of the disease in their brains, revealing that pathology can spread from the gut to the brain

Probiotic treatment corrects memory problems in an Alzheimer's mouse model, suggesting that altering the microbiome may help delay the disease