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Scientists uncover more gut-brain connections

February 14, 2019

hands holding a grocery hand basket filled with vegetables

They’re foreign to us, yet part of us. Do the trillions of microbes in and on our bodies control us?

Well, these bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses – collectively called the microbiome– are quite likely affecting our brains and behavior to some degree.

The New York Times recently surveyed intriguing research linking microbiomes to conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, autism, depression and overeating, albeit mostly in mice. The work raises the prospect that we might someday treat such conditions in humans with dietary changes, bacteria capsules, or fecal transplants.

The article describes:

  • Mice showing reduced clumping of dementia-related proteins in the brain after treatment with microbe-killing antibiotics.
  • Mice gaining weight after receiving a stool transfer from mice with a genetic mutation inclining them to eat a lot.
  • Improvements in mice’s sociability after adding a certain bacteria strain to their diets.
  • Relative passivity among mice that received stool transfers from depressed humans.
  • The possible isolation of a single bacteria strain connected to Parkinson’s symptoms in mice.

The mystery of the microbiome

We at iSpecimen have long been fascinated by the secrets of the microbiome and its surprising connections to human health, as we blogged about here, here, here and here.

The microbiome has historically been a bit of a mystery, theTimes explained, with only certain microbes able to survive in a petri dish. In the early 2000s, however, the ability to sequence the microbiome, whose genes outnumber the human genome’s 200-fold, helped unlock new insights.

We’re committed to serving researchers who study the microbiome as they develop new treatments, cures and diagnostics. We can supply you with a range of human biospecimens for this work, including saliva, sputum and stool, as well as de-identified data about the patients from whom they came.

Humans have long heeded their gut. As it turns out, it can tell us so much more than we imagined.

Learn more about the iSpecimen Marketplace where you can browse millions of richly annotated, de-identified tissue and biofluid biospecimens or to request a quote or custom collection. You can join for free and creating a login is easy.