Jun 13, 2018
Bacteriophages: Are they an overlooked driver of Parkinson’s disease?
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Bacteriophages: Are they an overlooked driver of Parkinson’s disease?

June 10, 2018 – Atlanta, GA – In the first study of its kind, researchers from the New York-based Human Microbiology Institute have discovered the role certain bacteriophages may play in the onset of Parkinson’s disease (PD). The research is presented at ASM Microbe, the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, held from June 7th to June 11th in Atlanta, Georgia.

The researchers, led by George, Tetz, M.D., Ph.D., Human Microbiology Institute, showed that the abundance of lytic Lactococcus phages was higher in PD patients when compared to healthy individuals. This abundance led to a 10-fold reduction in neurotransmitter-producing Lactococcus, suggesting the possible role of phages in neurodegeneration. Comparative analysis of the bacterial component also revealed significant decreases in Streptococcus spp. and Lactobacillus spp. in PD.

Lactococcus are regulators of gut permeability and are enteric dopamine producers, which plays a primary role in PD. “The depletion of lactococcus due to high numbers of strictly lytic phages in PD patients might be associated with PD development and directly linked to dopamine decrease as well as the development of gastrointestinal symptoms of PD,” said Dr. Tetz.

To explore bacterial and bacteriophage community compositions associated with PD, the researchers used shotgun metagenomics sequencing data of fecal microbiome from 32 patients with PD and 28 controls.

The results indicate that the decrease in Lactococci in the PD patients was due to the appearance of strictly lytic, virulent lactococcal phages belonging to the c2-like and 936 groups that are frequently isolated from dairy products. These results open a discussion on the role of environmental phages and phagobiota composition in health and disease.

“Bacteriophages have previously been overlooked as pathogenic factors, and the study points out their pivotal role in pathogenesis,” said Dr. Tetz. Future research is needed to explore bacterial viruses as a diagnostic and treatment target for therapeutic intervention.


ASM Microbe, the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology showcases the best microbial sciences in the world and provides a one-of-a-kind forum to explore the complete spectrum of microbiology. ASM Microbe is held in Atlanta, GA from June 7-11, 2018.

The American Society for Microbiology is the largest single life science society, composed of more than 30,000 scientists and health professionals. ASM’s mission is to promote and advance the microbial sciences.

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Apr 18, 2018
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HMI’ bacteriophage research is in the Top 100 Scientific Reports Microbiology papers in 2017

NEW YORK, NY / ACCESSWIRE / April 18, 2018 /  ‘Bacteriophages as potential new mammalian pathogens’ has been selected as one of the top 100 read microbiology papers for Scientific Reports in 2017*, New York based HumanMicrobiology Institute (HMI) announced today. 

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Nov 25, 2017
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New York – Scientists have reported on a breakthrough that may change conventional understanding of causes for many diseases like Alzheimer’s. This relates to viruses called bacteriophages. To find out more we spoke with Dr. George Tetz.Dr. George Tetz has led a research team that has recently presented important datathat could change the conventional medical understanding of causes for many diseases, like Alzheimer’s disease, together with other neurodegenerative diseases. This is that neurodegenerative diseases can be caused by bacteriophages. These are viruses that infect and replicate within bacteria. In the context of the new research, this is with the gut microbiota of humans and other mammals. Dr. Tetz is involved with the Human Microbiology Institute, which is based in New York. To find out more, Digital Journal spoke with the researcher about the last findings and their implication.

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Oct 08, 2016
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NEW YORKSept. 23, 2016 – Alzheimer’s, cancer and other incurable diseases such as Parkinson’s and dementia can be contagious, according to researchers at the Human Microbiology Institute, who have published research linking the diseases to newly discovered bacterial viruses.

In a recent article published in Gut Pathogens, HMI researchers George and Victor Tetz said they have linked the diseases to bacteriophages.

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