Gut bacteria may be playing a role in motor neurone disease, according to early studies in animals and people.

Experiments show some species of bacteria – and the chemicals they make – change the pace of the disease.

The team at the Weizmann Institute in Israel says it adds to work suggesting the “microbiome” alters the brain in autism and Parkinson’s disease.

The research is at a very early stage, but the team hope it could lead to the first treatments for the disease. Read Ipos2 for updates on health and disease related news.

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What is motor neurone disease?

It is a group of diseases that stop messages from the brain and spinal cord from reaching the muscles.

It leads to muscles wasting away and affects the ability to move, eat and even breathe.

The most common form of the disease is amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and life expectancy is usually between two and five years after symptoms start.

Although physicist Stephen Hawking lived for more than half a century with a rare form of motor neurone disease.

  • MND Association

Primary Care

What is the microbiome?

  • You are more microbe than human – if you count all the cells in your body, only 43% are human.
  • The rest is our microbiome and includes bacteria, viruses, fungi and single-celled archaea
  • The human genome – the full set of genetic instructions for a human being – is made up of 20,000 instructions called genes
  • But add all the genes in our microbiome together and the figure comes out at between two million and 20 million microbial genes
  • It is known as the second genome and is linked to diseases including allergy, obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, Parkinson’s, whether cancer drugs work and even depression and autism
  • More than half your body is not human
  • Gut Instinct: Why I put my poo in the post
  • Does vaginal seeding boost health?
  • Why a faecal transplant could save your life