Parkinson’s disease could be prevented after scientists discovered its cause.
Researchers discovered that a certain strain of bacteria in the gut is the likely cause of Parkinson’s disease in the majority of cases.
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Their study discovered that these bacteria, called Desulfovibrio, can be detected and removed which could prevent the disease.
Parkinson’s is a progressive disease which occurs after the brain becomes damaged over a number of years, causing slowness and tremors.
At present there is no cure and it affects 153,000 people in the UK.
Professor Per Saris at the University of Helsinki said: “Our findings are significant, as the cause of Parkinson’s disease has gone unknown despite attempts to identify it throughout the last two centuries
“The findings indicate that specific strains of Desulfovibrio bacteria are likely to cause Parkinson’s disease.
“The disease is primarily caused by environmental factors, that is, environmental exposure to the Desulfovibrio bacterial strains that cause Parkinson’s disease.
“Only a small share, or roughly 10 percent, of Parkinson’s disease is caused by individual genes.”
To get their results the team used a type of worm as their model organism.
They found that in patients with Parkinson’s disease the bacteria strain caused an accumulation of the α-synuclein protein, primarily found in the brain and spinal cord, at a statistically significant level.
The researchers believe that these findings could help to cure or prevent Parkinson’s disease in patients.
Professor Saris added: “Our findings make it possible to screen for the carriers of these harmful Desulfovibrio bacteria.
“Consequently, they can be targeted by measures to remove these strains from the gut, potentially alleviating and slowing the symptoms of patients with Parkinson’s disease.”