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Suspect bacterium may trigger Parkinson’s

Mouse study finds stomach ulcer-causing microbes may also affect brain

By
7:34pm, May 22, 2011

NEW ORLEANS — Brain cells may be the latest victim of a bacterial bad guy already charged with causing ulcers and stomach cancer.

Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium that lives in the stomachs of about half the people in the world, may help trigger Parkinson’s disease, researchers reported May 22 at a meeting of the American Society for Microbiology. Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder that kills dopamine-producing cells in some parts of the brain. People with the disease have trouble controlling their movements. About 60,000 new cases of the disease are diagnosed each year in the United States.

Some previous studies have suggested that people with Parkinson’s disease are more likely than healthy people to have had ulcers at some point in their lives and are more likely to be infected with H. pylori. But until now those connections between the bacterium and the disease have amounted to circumstantial evidence.

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