An Australian-first trial exploring the link between gut health and Parkinson’s disease is soon to start.
An Australian-first trial exploring the link between gut health and Parkinson’s disease is soon to start.

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.


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