Investigators at the University of California in San Francisco are recruiting people with MS for an international study of the gut microbiome – the population of bacteria in the gut – in MS. They are seeking people with primary progressive MS nationwide (there is no need for onsite visits), as well as people with any other type of MS who can make a one-time visit to San Francisco, New York, Boston or Pittsburgh. The overall purpose of these studies is to investigate the potential role of gut bacteria in MS.
Scientists Focus on Gut Flora for Future Treatments of Autoimmune Diseases
Rationale: MS involves immune-system attacks against the brain and spinal cord. The gut, including the small and large intestine, is the largest immune organ in mammals. Each of us has millions of bacteria living within our guts. Mostly, this “gut microbiome” is harmless and emerging research suggests that it is critical in the establishment and maintenance of immune balance, and it may even play a role in the immune attack in MS.
What if your gut flora was actually a healing agent capable of doing battle with autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis? According to researchers, it just might be. And a major multiple sclerosis organization is looking for volunteers to help prove it.
With support from the National MS Society, an international, multi-center team is conducting a comprehensive analysis of gut bacteria in people with MS. The International Multiple Sclerosis Microbiome Study (iMSMS) is collecting biospecimens (blood and stool) from 4,000 people (2,000 with MS and 2,000 without) to catalogue individual bacteria populations and to understand which species may protect people from getting MS, or put them at high risk of getting MS. The results will help to shape a clinical trial that will test the ability to manipulate gut bacteria to alter the course of MS.
How to Get Involved: Participants should be between the ages of 18 and 80 with a diagnosis of MS, and have no other autoimmune or gastrointestinal diseases.
People with primary progressive MS can enroll nationwide. If they qualify, participants will be asked to provide a blood sample (by going to a local Quest lab), and a stool sample. Participants will receive a form to bring to Quest, and a stool sample kit with instructions.
People with any type of MS who qualify will be invited for a one-time visit to any of our recruiting centers listed below. Participants, as well as non-genetically related household partners who do not have MS or any other autoimmune disease, will be asked to provide a blood sample, and will be provided with a kit to take home and mail back a stool sample. The on-site visit will also include some cognitive and motor assessments, a neurological exam, and dietary questionnaires.
A recent study funded by the U.S. Department of Defense and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, researchers from the Mayo Clinic and University of Iowa concluded that the human gut microbe may help treat autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS).
Contact: If you are interested in more information or participating, please visit imsms.org/contact-us or contact one of the sites listed below:
- University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA – 415-502-7615, SanFrancisco@imsms.org
- Mount Sinai, New York, NY – 212-241-6854, NewYork@imsms.org
- Brigham and Women’s Hospital | Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA – 617-732-5588, Boston@imsms.org
- University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA – 412-624-9126, Pittsburgh@imsms.org
About Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body.
Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide.