Could fecal transplants help treat mental illness?

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« on: September 16, 2019, 04:23:01 am »
Could fecal transplants help treat mental illness?

Liz Tung

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One startling new study even found that transferring gut microbes from people with schizophrenia into germ-free mice can cause schizophrenia-like symptoms. (Microbes from healthy controls had no such effect in the mice.) The same study found what could be the mechanism for that change: dysfunction of the affected mice’s glutamate system, which is thought to be implicated in schizophrenia.

“So it shows that it could be a cause, but at the very least a strong contributing factor, that’s coming from the microbes that the person carries with them,” Julio Licinio, the study’s co-author, said.

Licinio added that the significance to this finding is that changing the microbes could have a therapeutic effect on subjects’ behavior, offering a new avenue for treatment.

The study also offers one more piece of evidence that microbiomes don’t just reflect mental illness, but could actually be causing mental illness.

“There is a possibility that there are some microbes that are very specific to mental illness,” Licinio said. “It would be a huge finding if that’s confirmed.”

Licinio added that this hasn’t been proven yet, but evidence so far points to the idea that there are at least some microbes that are specific to people with mental illness.

“So we are still being a little cautious because we don’t want to, you know, say, ‘Oh, this is the biggest breakthrough,’ and it’s not proven yet. But it seems to be the case that there are at least some microbes that are very specific to people with mental illness.”
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