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Faecal transplant trial may reduce discomfort felt by people living with Parkinson’s

Faecal transplant trial may reduce discomfort felt by people living with Parkinson’s

After a career in the health sector, Cassandra Hewett has become accustomed to bodily functions and fluids. So, when she was first presented with the option of being part of a trial that involved receiving a poo transplant, she jumped at the opportunity.

“There’s no fear in terms of what might need to be involved having worked in areas of research … in fact, I’d find it very interesting and very keen to have the outcomes,” Ms Hewett said.

“I’m not afraid of anything to do with body parts, we’re all a very complex organism.”

Ms Hewett was diagnosed with young onset Parkinson’s disease three years ago.

Young onset Parkinson’s disease presents visible symptoms such as tremors of limbs and the face as well as postural instability. People living with the disease also suffer from symptoms not seen, like depression, sleep disturbances and constipation.

“There can be a fair bit of time spent in the toilet, which can be really inconvenient, plus through the discomfort of having to deal with that issue,” Ms Hewett said.

“My husband gets very concerned about me being in the bathroom a long time… so I think it’s not only the person that has the condition, it also affects the family around you.”

In a collaboration between The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, the Royal Adelaide Hospital and biotechnology company BiomeBank, faecal transplants are the latest treatment option being trialled in people living with Parkinson’s to help manage their debilitating symptoms by replenishing their healthy gut bacteria.

With constipation affecting 90 per cent of people with Parkinson’s, research has indicated the microbiome within the gut may influence the response to existing therapies for the disease.

Robert Bryant, a gastroenterologist at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital and co-founder of Translational Medicine at BiomeBank, said the study of faecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) is an important step in microbial drug development.

“Constipation is a common problem for many people with Parkinson’s and has a wider impact on the person’s health and wellbeing,” Dr Bryant said.

“The aim of this trial is to meet an unmet medical need, exploring whether our microbial therapy is safe and tolerable in people with Parkinson’s disease. The study will also provide some preliminary information on whether FMT might improve motor and non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s including constipation.”

The trial has been financially backed by Adelaide businessman Kevin Weeks, who lives with Parkinson’s disease.

“Gut health has been linked to so many conditions and it is exciting that a South Australian company might improve our understanding of this connection,” Mr Weeks said.

“I’m funding this trial because I want to back research that produces immediate improvements for people living with Parkinson’s.”
A start date for the trial has not yet been determined.

Original article by Charles Brice, ABC News Online