A probiotic for Parkinson’s?

Researchers at the International Parkinson’s Centre of Excellence at King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, led by Prof K. R. Chaudhuri, are about to embark on a study that may potentially change the way we treat Parkinson’s.

Dr Beckie Port
Feb 11, 2019 · 6 min read
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A problem with the gut

New research is helping us to better understand what causes these symptoms and moving towards new and better treatments. Some of the latest research has focused on the role of the gut in Parkinson’s (indeed, this budding area of research has recently been featured in another blog post — “Could your gut be affecting your health?”). And recent studies have shown that the microbes that live in our guts, called the gut microbiota, can be altered in people with Parkinson’s.

A healthy gut and Parkinson’s

Our guts play an important role in absorbing nutrients while keeping out nasty pathogens and protecting us from absorbing other toxins. Good bacteria are important for maintaining the effectiveness of this barrier and our overall gut health. But changes in the types of bacteria living in our gut could lead to a syndrome known as ‘leaky-gut’ — where tiny holes form that may allow material, and potential toxins, to leak through the gut wall into the blood.

The pros of probiotics

One strategy to try and reintroduce good bacteria is to use a treatment called faecal transplantation. This involves collecting bacteria that live in the gut of a healthy donor from a stool sample, and preparing and transplanting them via a tube directly into the gut of the recipient. But while this may work for some conditions where the gut microbiota is abnormal, the process is difficult and still needs regulatory approval and safety checks before it could be made available more widely. So, researchers have been investigating other ways to get good bacteria back into the gut.

A new type of probiotic

Symprove is an oral drinkable probiotic that claims to be able to deliver live bacteria to the lower gut and it has a rather interesting backstory with roots in the farmyard.

Gold standard clinical trial

The team have designed a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial — the gold standard for testing if treatments actually work. Neither the participants or the researchers will know who will be taking the real Symprove treatment and who will be in the placebo group, which is important to avoid any subconscious bias. And, as there is a placebo group in the study, the results should be able to show if the treatment has a greater effect than the placebo effect.

Your questions answered

Will I be able to take part in this study?

The researchers are no longer looking for participants.

Should I start using probiotics to improve my Parkinson’s?

This study is a world-first, which means we really don’t know if probiotics can improve the symptoms of Parkinson’s. And while Symprove has shown benefit for other conditions, there is no guarantee it will work for people with Parkinson’s.

Can I take part in other research?

Yes, there are many research studies looking for people both with and without Parkinson’s to take part. You can find out about them on our Take Part Hub.


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Parkinson’s UK

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Thanks to Claire Bale

Dr Beckie Port

Written by

Research Communications Manager at @ParkinsonsUK. Ex-researcher in oncology and virology.

Parkinson’s UK

Get the latest research news, discover more about Parkinson’s and read about how others are getting involved. For information and support, visit www.parkinsons.org.uk

Dr Beckie Port

Written by

Research Communications Manager at @ParkinsonsUK. Ex-researcher in oncology and virology.

Parkinson’s UK

Get the latest research news, discover more about Parkinson’s and read about how others are getting involved. For information and support, visit www.parkinsons.org.uk

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