Scientists Seek People with Primary Progressive MS and Other Forms of MS to Study Gut Bacteria

Volunteers are being sought for a major study to help determine how the gut microbiome can be used to treat multiple sclerosis, lupus, and other diseases.

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.

Volunteers are being sought for a major study to help determine how the gut microbiome can be used to treat multiple sclerosis, lupus, and other diseases.

Volunteers are being sought for a major study to help determine how the gut microbiome can be used to treat multiple sclerosis, lupus, and other diseases.

national multiple sclerosis societyWhat 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.

You get gut flora at birth from your mother, but after that it’s heavily influenced by lifestyle and eating habits.

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).

The human gut is colonized by a large number of microorganisms (∼1013 bacteria) that support various physiologic functions. A perturbation in the healthy gut microbiome might lead to the development of inflammatory diseases, such as multiple sclerosis (MS). Therefore, gut commensals might provide promising therapeutic options for treating MS and other diseases. We report the identification of human gut-derived commensal bacteria, Prevotella histicola, which can suppress experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) in a human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class II transgenic mouse model. P. histicola suppresses disease through the modulation of systemic immune responses. P. histicola challenge led to a decrease in pro-inflammatory Th1 and Th17 cells and an increase in the frequencies of CD4+FoxP3+ regulatory T cells, tolerogenic dendritic cells, and suppressive macrophages. Our study provides evidence that the administration of gut commensals may regulate a systemic immune response and may, therefore, have a possible role in treatment strategies for MS.

read this study at

Contact: If you are interested in more information or participating, please visit or contact one of the sites listed below:

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.

Gut Flora for Future Treatments of Autoimmune Diseases

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