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Parkinson's May Be Caused by a Common Aquatic Bacterium

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"A common genus of microbe found in wet, boggy environments could play a key role in the development of Parkinson's disease, by excreting compounds that trigger proteins inside brain cells to form toxic clumps.

The findings, made by a small team of researchers at the University of Helsinki and the University of Eastern Finland, build on the results of an earlier investigation showing that the severity of the neurodegenerative disorder in volunteers increased with concentrations of Desulfovibrio bacterial strains in their feces.

By now demonstrating a potential path from the presence of the bacteria in genetically edited worms to physical changes in the brain that coincide with Parkinson's disease, the researchers hope to one day improve early diagnosis of the disease in humans, or even slow its progress.

"Our findings make it possible to screen for the carriers of these harmful Desulfovibrio bacteria," says senior author Per Saris, a microbiologist at the University of Helsinki in Finland.

"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."



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