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Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder where brain cells accumulate excessive amounts of a protein called alpha-synuclein and then 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 is 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.

Previous research has suggested connections between gut bacteria and Parkinson's, as well as other diseases such as multiple sclerosis. But no research has shown exactly how the two might be related.

The researchers performed three different experiments that showed the link between the germs in the gut and the disease in the brain.

For the first time, researchers have found a functional link between the bacteria in the gut and the onset of Parkinson's disease, one of the world's most common debilitating brain disorders.
A team of 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.

"One can imagine one day, maybe in our lifetimes, patients will be prescribed drugs, and in the pills will be the bacteria that protect them from disease or even maybe treat their disease symptoms," said Sarkis Mazmanian, one of the researchers on the team and professor of microbiology at the California Institute of Technology.

The scientists published their findings Thursday in the journal Cell.

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Taryn DeCicco ND, LAc, LDN of Apple A Day Clinic in Arlington Heights, IL has been specializing in Acne, Skin, and Digestive disorders for over 16 years.