Parkinson’s: It’s Not All In Your Head, It’s In Your Stomach

Constipation. It’s not the first symptom you think of when considering the effects of Parkinson’s Disease (PD).

Tremors, rigidity, insomnia, and depression are all well-known symptoms of PD. Constipation? Not so much. And yet, for two-thirds of the 7-10 million people around the world who have PD, constipation is a common symptom. Could there be a connection?

Since 1817, when Dr. James Parkinson’s first put a name to the debilitating neuro-degenerative condition, the medical community has generally accepted that the cause originates in the brain.
But, if you haven’t heard, researchers at the pharmaceutical company Enterin are chewing on a different source: the gut.

They’ve spent the past few years studying alpha synuclein (aS), a protein that accumulates in the nerves of the intestine of people who develop PD.

Here’s their theory simplified: The protein in the gut eventually overwhelms the gastrointestinal nervous system and spreads to nerve cells in the brain, impairing muscle control and mobility.

There are, in fact, 100 million neurons at work in the gut. And although they can’t do calculus or compose sonnets, these neurons can do some pretty amazing things. They communicate with the brain and contribute to our emotional responses.

Enterin is testing an oral treatment called ENT-01 that keeps the harmful aS from attaching to the neurons in the gut. The idea is that if they can keep aS from clogging those neurons, it might just relieve PD-related constipation—and, in turn, address other symptoms. Scientists can’t help but wonder, Could it possibly even stop damage to the brain?

It’s an interesting theory and one that Enterin is betting a $12.7 million investment in research and development to prove.

This therapy, if successful, could repair the “gut-brain axis” and the underwrite the funding of clinical trials. If they’re bet pays off, it would be revolutionary.

Click here to find out more about this novel approach to PD—or you can go the extra mile and enroll in the clinical trials.

Do you or someone you care about have Parkinson’s Disease? Share your story with the Patient Worthy community!

Share this post