Our team is working with King’s College Hospital and Symprove to find out in this ground-breaking clinical trial!
Parkinson’s is one of the UK’s most common neurological conditions, affecting about 1 in 350 people. While it usually affects the over 60 population, about 1 in 7 diagnoses is given to younger people. As the British population ages, these figures are expected to rise.
Recently, a number of patients undergoing treatment for Parkinson’s at King’s College Hospital noticed their symptoms had improved after consuming a 12-week course of Symprove, a water-infused supplement made from germinated barley with vitamins and probiotic bacteria: Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Enterococcus faecium, Lactobacillus acidophilus, and Lactobacillus plantarum.
Treating disease by administering probiotics to the gut microbiome is an emerging frontier in healthcare that offers several benefits including lower treatment costs, fewer side effects compared to pharmacological drugs, and enhanced overall health (rather than just targeting one pathway for one disease).
This research is led by Professor K Ray Chaudhuri, in partnership with Symprove and our team who developed the Atlas Biomed Microbiome Test.
Patient enrollment starts this summer (2019) and the trial will continue into next year; 100+ participants will be administered the 12-week course of Symprove. King’s College researchers will monitor patients, symptoms, and physical parameters.
The gut microbiome is part of the puzzle in the gut-brain axis
The data acquired during the trial will be combined with before-and-after microbiome testing to evaluate changes in the composition of their gut microbiota with the aim of identifying possible patterns and mechanisms by which Symprove may act.
The gut-brain link in Parkinson’s
Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological disease, in which decreased dopamine production in the part of the brain (the substantia nigra) responsible for movement affects motor skills, movement, and muscle function.
The nerve cells that produce dopamine, a neurotransmitter vital for movement, start to break down causing many of this disease’s hallmark symptoms like stiffness and tremors.
Initially, researchers detected abnormal deposits of a protein called alpha-synuclein in the nerve cells of patients’ brains. Known as Lewy bodies, they were considered a marker of cell death and neurodegeneration.
But now, Lewy bodies are known to appear in the nerve cells of the gut too, well before the neurological symptoms, indicating that Parkinson’s may, in fact, originate there.
Indeed, there are a number of digestive symptoms associated with Parkinson’s that often fly under the radar of the media, such as nausea and constipation. Another little known fact is that people with inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis), an autoimmune illness, may be at significantly higher risk of Parkinson’s than the average person.
As evidence grows on the links between the gut, the brain, and Parkinson’s, the gut microbiome also grabbed attention. This ecosystem of bacteria living in the colon perform essential tasks for human health.
But dysbiosis, a term used to describe negative alterations in the microbiome composition, has been shown to cause inflammation, and it has been implicated in a number of non-gut related diseases including autism, heart disease and diabetes type II. It is here that Symprove may play a role.
Making change possible
Patients and families affected by Parkinson’s suffer in more ways than just physical. It comes with a heavy emotional burden, lower quality of life, as well as substantial financial losses.
It’s estimated that patients (and households) may incur total losses of up to £25,000 on average per year due to losses in benefits/employment, and spending on home modifications, private insurance, cleaning support, caregiving, and meal services.
Finding a solution to reduce symptoms can address these problems and open up new pathways for research to prevent diseases of this day and age. At Atlas Biomed, we believe that it’s possible to prevent disease, rather than just treat it, and it starts with research.
We asked our Director of Research for Atlas Biomed, Dmitry Alexeev, why he chose to invest our resources into Parkinson’s - and his answer summed it up perfectly:
Helping people to live a better and healthier life, is at the heart of what we do at Atlas Biomed and working with leading experts like Professor K. R. Chaudhuri and Barry Smith to uncover what we hope will improve the lives of thousands of Parkinson’s sufferers, is undoubtedly one of our proudest moments to date.
- National Institute for Clinical Excellence, Parkinson’s Review
- Parkinson’s UK: What is Parkinson’s?
- Parkinson’s UK: The cost of Parkinson’s: the financial impact of living with the condition
- S Weir et al., Short‐ and long‐term cost and utilization of health care resources in Parkinson's disease in the UK, 2018
- F Zhu et al., The risk of Parkinson's disease in inflammatory bowel disease: A systematic review and meta-analysis, 2019
- BMJ, Possible link between IBD and Parkinson’s might allow doctors to slow down neurological condition