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Brain Parasite Directly Alters Brain Chemistry

Research shows infection by the brain parasite Toxoplasma gondii, found in 10-20 per cent of the UK's population, directly affects the production of dopamine, a key chemical messenger in the brain.

Findings from the University of Leeds research group are the first to demonstrate that a parasite found in the brain of mammals can affect dopamine levels.

Whilst the work has been carried out with rodents, lead investigator Dr Glenn McConkey of the University's Faculty of Biological Sciences, believes that the findings could ultimately shed new light on treating human neurological disorders that are dopamine-related such as schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and Parkinson's disease.

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