Gut may hold Parkinson’s key
Geelong is to host an Australian-first trial exploring the link between gut health and Parkinson's disease.
Deakin University researchers hope the trial helps discover how gut bacteria might differ in people with Parkinson's compared with a healthy group.
Research has pinpointed a type of gut bacteria linked to Parkinson's, with its presence an important signal of the neurodegenerative disorder.
Trial supervisor Helen Macpherson hopes the data will help build evidence of a connection.
"What we want to be able to establish clearly is that these differences in gut bacteria exist in people with Parkinson's disease compared to those in a normally ageing group, irrespective of diet or lifestyle differences," Dr Macpherson said.
Researchers believe a bug entering the stomach triggers a chain of events that leads to damage in regions of the brain where Parkinson's disease originates.
Some studies have observed gut microbiota differences between those with and without the disease, but have failed to build conclusive evidence, according to researchers.
"None of the previous studies we analysed looked at detailed cognitive behavioural outcomes, like thinking and memory skills, and none adequately considered lifestyle differences," Dr Macpherson said.
The trial would look at diet, physical activity, gut bacteria and brain activation in tests in a bid to determine appropriate intervention to help prevent the disease.
The trial is open to people from the Geelong region aged 50 and over, with or without a Parkinson's diagnosis.
Potential participants would be required for a 2½-hour consultation at Deakin in Geelong or Burwood.
Contact gutstudy@deakin. edu.au or call 9246 8702.