Tagged: phenylalanine hydroxylase

Bac to the future


Over the last few years, there has been a growing body of research – and tremendous interest – focused on the role/influence of the gastrointestinal system in Parkinson’s.

In today’s post we are going to look at a recent piece of research that suggests some of the bacteria in our gut can influence the availability of the medication we use to treat Parkinson’s. 

In addition, we will look at a novel way researchers are re-engineering bacteria in the gut to correct other medical conditions (such as phenylketonuria) and we will ask if the same can not be applied to Parkinson’s.

 


The Platypus. Source: National geographic

The interesting, but utterly useless fact of the day: The duck-billed Platypus of Australia does not have a stomach.

What?

No really. These oddities of evolution have no stomach. There’s no sac in the middle of their bodies that secrete powerful acids and digestive enzymes. The oesophagus (the tube from the mouth) of the platypus connects directly to its intestines.

The platypus. Source: Topimage

And believe it or not, platypus are not alone on this ‘sans estomac‘ trend. At least a 1/4 of the fish species on this planet do not have a stomach (Source).

What?!?

And this absense of the stomach isn’t even remotely weird in the animal kingdom. Some creatures don’t even have a gastrointestinal system. No mouth. No anus. No intestines. Nothing.

WHAT?!?

The giant tube worm – Riftia pachyptila – lives on the floor of the Pacific Ocean, next to hot hydrothermal vents and can tolerate extremely high levels of hydrogen sulfide (hazardous for you and I). These creatures – which can grow up to 2.4 meters (or 7+ feet) in length – have no gastrointestinal tract whatsoever. Zip, zero, nada.

Rather they have an internal cavity – called a trophosome – filled with bacteria which live symbiotically with them.

Watch this video of Ed Yong explaining it all (great video!):

 

WOW! Fascinating! But what does ANY of this have to do with Parkinson’s?

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