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More than 21 million people worldwide suffer from schizophrenia, a profound mental illness that interrupts thinking, language and perception. Quite a few schizophrenic people experience delusions and hear voices. Many of the disease’s symptoms stem from faulty communication between brain cells. And, for decades, scientists have searched for a cure in the brain.
Now researchers say they’ve discovered that the way to heal schizophrenia might be through the gut. There’s an ecosystem of bacteria and microbes that live in our digestive tracts, known as the gut microbiome. And these may lead to some features of schizophrenia, an international team of scientists announced this week in the journal Science Advances. The discovery could revolutionize treatment options for schizophrenia.
Brain - Disease - Wong - Geneticist - State
“We understand schizophrenia as a brain disease,” Ma-Ling Wong, a medical geneticist at the State University of New York Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, who co-led the new research, said in a press briefing. “But maybe we need to re-examine this line of thinking and consider that maybe the gut has an important role.”
The idea that the gut is connected to mental health has been gaining traction in recent years. And research is now pointing to a link between the gut microbiome and an array of mental health disorders including anxiety, memory and motor deficits in Parkinson’s disease. A separate study, published Monday in the journal Nature Microbiology connected missing gut microbes to depression. Those mounting associations extend to schizophrenia as well, where the mental illness often co-occurs with gastrointestinal disorders marked by atypical gut...
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