Jaw-dropping science facts, part 6
Scientists have found evidence that gut bacteria has a direct physical effect on the brain, and suggest that it may one day be possible to treat diseases such as multiple sclerosis (and possibly even psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia) by altering gut microbial composition.
Researchers at University College in Cork, Ireland, discovered that gut bacteria has a much more important role than was previously thought: they regulate nerve fibre insulation, affecting how impulses in the brain are conducted. According to The Guardian, which picked up on the story:
'Gut microbe research has exploded in the past 10 years, and in that time, it has become increasingly clear that there is a two-way line of communication between gut bacteria and the brain. The human gut microbiome seems to play important roles in health and disease, and alterations in its composition have been implicated in a wide range of neurological and psychiatric conditions, including autism, chronic pain, depression, and Parkinson’s Disease.'
John Cryan of the APC Microbiome Institute told the newspaper:
"To our knowledge this is the first study showing a clear relationship between the microbiome and myelination in the brain.” The new findings could, therefore, eventually lead to novel treatments for multiple sclerosis and other demyelinating diseases, based on prebiotics, probiotics, or even fecal transplants, all of which could potentially be used to adjust the exact composition of microbes in the gut."
The original scientific research, published in Translational Psychiatry last April, can be found here.
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