Scientists have found tantalising clues that the devastating condition motor neurone disease may be linked to changes in microbes that live in the gut. Studies in mice revealed that animals bred to develop amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a form of the disease that affected the cosmologist Stephen Hawking, improved and lived longer when they were given an organism called Akkermansia muciniphila. Among other substances, the microbe secretes a molecule called nicotinamide which may slow the course of motor neurone disease by improving the function of muscle-controlling neurons in the brain.
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