Alzheimer's and other diseases could be linked to contagious bacteriophages

New research from the Human Microbiology Institute has shown that many diseases, from Alzheimer’s to cancer and others, could be linked to bacterial viruses, a finding that could indicate those diseases are in fact contagious.

The chronic inflammation associated with such diseases as inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, autism, diabetes, heart conditions, rheumatoid arthritis and more, according to a release from the HMI, could be enabled by microbiota diseases.

The bacterial viruses, or bacteriophages, that cause microbiota diseases were not previously considered mammalian or human pathogens, the researchers said, but their study, published in Gut Pathogens, shows they may in fact be an indirect trigger because of their association with “leaky gut” syndrome.

FREE DAILY NEWSLETTER

Like this story? Subscribe to FierceBiotech!

Biopharma is a fast-growing world where big ideas come along every day. Our subscribers rely on FierceBiotech as their must-read source for the latest news, analysis and data in the world of biotech and pharma R&D. Sign up today to get biotech news and updates delivered to your inbox and read on the go.

Leaky gut arises due to the permeability of the intestinal lumen, which the scientists found in rats treated with bacteriophages. This increased permeability can allow inflammation-causing bacteria to travel more readily in the body, and the researchers have reason to believe neurodegenerative diseases and others can result.

"This is a revolutionary discovery that completely changes views on the causes of incurable diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, dementia and others," lead researcher George Tetz of HMI said. "To our knowledge, this is the first study to indicate that bacteriophages can cause human diseases. Infection from bacteriophages that are known solely to target bacteria may be harmful to mammals and humans, opening new ways to prevent and cure these diseases."