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Two Studies Co-Funded by National MS Society Add Evidence to Role of Gut Bacteria in MS

September 12, 2017

New studies from the U.S. and Germany, funded in part by the National MS Society, add mounting evidence to the potential role that intestinal bacteria play in the brain inflammation that underlies multiple sclerosis.
In one study, researchers found that certain types of bacteria were much more common in people with MS than in people without MS, and that administering these bacteria to immune cells from people without MS caused the cells to become inflammatory. Transferring bacteria from people with MS to mouse models induced brain inflammation, unlike gut bacteria from people without MS. In a second study, investigators analyzed bacteria from 34 sets of twins, of whom one twin had MS. When bacteria from the twins was transferred to mice, bacteria from the twins who had MS caused much more brain inflammation than that from the twins who did not have MS.

Further study, now underway, is needed to determine whether future treatment strategies for MS may include some designed to affect the microbiome, such as probiotics. The Society continues to fund research in this area, including The MS Microbiome Consortium, a comprehensive analysis of gut bacteria in people with MS to determine factors that may drive progression and develop probiotic strategies for stopping progression. Find out how you can participate in this study.

Read more about these studies in Science Magazine

Read Study 1 and Study 2, both available to all on the Website of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

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.

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