Poo transplants could be key to eternal youth – UEA study
PUBLISHED: 11:17 02 October 2020 | UPDATED: 16:16 02 October 2020
Denise Bradley/Getty Images/iStockphoto/davidcreacion
For centuries, mankind has searched for the key to eternal youth - but the answer could lie in something we normally flush away.
Researchers from the University of East Anglia (UEA) have discovered that faecal transplants could, in the future, be used to restore cognitive function in the elderly.
The study, conducted alongside the Quadram Institute and the University of Florence, saw impacts on the spatial learning and memory of younger mice after their gut microbiome was altered by faecal transplants from older specimens.
Researchers hope that a similar procedure could one day be reversed and used on people to combat cognitive decline as they get older.
Dr David Vauzour, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: “Ageing is an inevitable process that starts immediately after birth and ultimately leads to physical health problems as well as a decline in psychological well-being and cognitive function.
“Research has shown that the aging process may be linked with age-related changes in our gut microbiota.
“We wanted to see whether transferring gut microbes from older to younger mice could affect parts of the central nervous system associated with ageing.”
The young mice were assessed for markers such as memory, anxiety and exploratory behaviour after the team found differences in their microbial profiles.
Results showed no significant changes in terms of anxiety, exploratory behaviour or locomotor activity, but did show impaired spatial learning and memory after the transplant.
“The young mice began to behave like older mice, in terms of their cognitive function,” Dr Vauzour added.
The results of the study are to be used as a springboard for further research into whether manipulating the microbiome can improve quality of life for elderly people.
Professor Arjan Narbad of the Quadram Institute said: “We have established an FMT (Faecal Microbiota Treatment) service on the Norwich Research Park to treat serious gut infections and now want to explore in humans its effectiveness in combating a number of age-related conditions, including cognitive decline.”
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