The 100 trillion or so bacteria in our guts are important players in our normal biological processes and in protection against disease. Researchers have begun exploring possible imbalances in some bacteria levels in people with Parkinson’s and how those differences may lead to disease onset or progression. While this area of investigation is still fairly new, the field has some promising leads.
Sarkis Mazmanian, PhD, the Luis B. and Nelly Soux Professor of Microbiology and Heritage Medical Research Institute Investigator at the California Institute of Technology, discusses his recent gut bacteria research in the latest episode of our “Getting to a Cure: The Science behind the Search” podcast series.
“We have a rich nervous system in the gut, known as the enteric nervous system,” says Mazmanian. “We’d like to know how bacteria in the gut interact with the enteric nervous system to try and understand how those interactions affect outcomes in the brain. Those neurons in the gastrointestinal tract are connected to our central nervous system [brain and spinal cord] through a network of nerves.”