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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Aug 03, 2018
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Our presentation “Parkinson’s disease and bacteriophages as its overlooked contributors” has been selected as a Neuroscience 2018 Hot Topic, which SfN distributes to the media. Limited copies of the Hot Topics book are printed exclusively for the media.

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Jun 09, 2018
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Bacteriophages: Are They an Overlooked Driver of Parkinson’s Disease?

Human Microbiology Institute research the first propose the concept of bacteriophages as human pathogens. In this study we discovered the effect of certain  bacteriophages on the microbiota of patients with Parkinson’s disease  (PD) that might contribute to the onset of this pathology

 Research Will Be Presented at American Society for Microbiology (ASM) Microbe 2018

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Jul 14, 2017
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Viruses Called Bacteriophages Affect Bacteria in Mammal Gut Environment and May Cause Human Diseases, a Study from Human Microbiology Institute Reveals.

NEW YORK, NY, July 12, 2017 — Viruses called bacteriophages affect bacteria that populate mammal gut environment and may cause human diseases, according to the Human Microbiology Institute (HMI). The revolutionary findings were revealed today during an oral presentation at the largest European microbiologist gathering, FEMS-2017 in Spain.

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