Determining if gut bacteria play a role in the development and severity of MND.

Prof Chris McDermott

Principal Investigator: Prof Chris McDermott

Lead Institution: University of Sheffield

MND Association Funding: £206,985*

Funding dates: January 2021 - May 2024

* Supported by the PF Charitable Trust and the Sylvia Waddilove Foundation

About the project

We know that MND is the result of complex interactions between genetics and the environment. One way in which the environment can affect the body and even the brain is through bacteria within our gut, which is linked to features such as diet, exercise, and antibiotic use. Gut bacteria are relatively easy to manipulate making them an ideal target for design of new treatments. This study will aim to determine whether gut bacteria influence the development and severity of MND by comparing gut bacteria in MND patients and controls who have a matched diet, BMI and environment. Measures of gut bacteria will also be integrated with sequencing of patient’s genomes to capture both sides of the gene-environment interaction.

What could this mean for MND research?

This project will be the largest study to date to look at the gut microbiome as a factor in ALS development, disease progression and severity. The results of this study may help to guide clinical care in ALS. The research could reveal the gut microbiome as a new potential therapeutic target. Gut bacteria are relatively easy to manipulate through the use of antibiotics, pre-biotics, pro-biotics and dietary changes, meaning that changes identified as potential drivers of ALS could possibly be addressed.

Project code: 874-791