Human Microbiology Institute links bacterial viruses to neurodegenerative diseases


Researchers with New York City-based Human Microbiology Institute have found bacteriophages — viruses that infect and replicate within gut bacteria — can contribute to the development of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's, according to a study published in the journal Scientific Reports.

For the study, researchers exposed rats to various bacteriophage combinations and monitored the effects of these bacterial viruses on the gut microbiome. The viral exposure resulted in increases in gut permeability and endotoxins in the blood.

"HMI scientists have shown for the first time that the impact of bacteriophages may result in increased gut permeability, which is associated with diabetes, Alzheimer's, autism, heart conditions, rheumatoid arthritis and others," said Adriana Heguy, PhD, a professor of pathology at the New York University School of Medicine and one of the study's authors. "This could pave the road to further breakthrough research and new discoveries related to the origin of many diseases." 

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