University of California at San Francisco Recruiting MS Patients for Gut Bacteria Study

University of California at San Francisco Recruiting MS Patients for Gut Bacteria Study

University of California medical school researchers are looking for multiple sclerosis patients who want to participate in an international study of the bacteria that live in our gut.

The University of California at San Francisco team decided to study the gut microbiome after recent evidence suggested that it is critical in establishing and maintaining immune balance, according to a press release. The effort will be called the International Multiple Sclerosis Microbiome Study.

In mammals, the gut is the largest immune organ, and each person has millions of bacteria in it.

The immune system is defective in MS, turning against the body by attacking the brain and spinal cord. Knowing that the gut is involved in immune system balance, the researchers will investigate whether the microbiome can directly or indirectly impact how MS develops.

Researchers are seeking people with different types of MS. Those with primary progressive MS, or PPMS, will not need to visit the San Francisco medical center.

Those with other types of MS will have to make one visit to San Francisco, New York, Boston or Pittsburgh. The one-time visit will include cognitive and movement assessments, a neurologic examination, and questionnaires about diet.

At this stage, researchers are collecting blood and stool samples from 2,000 participants with MS and 2,000 without the disease. They will use the samples to classify participants’ bacteria populations, and to better understand which species may protect people from developing MS and which may increase the risk they will obtain MS.

Results of this initial stage will help the team design a clinical trial to evaluate the process by which gut bacteria may alter the course of MS, and how that course could be altered.

Those interesting in participating in the study must be between 18 and 80 years old and have MS but no other autoimmune or gastrointestinal disease.

Family members or partners of MS patients who are also participating in the study may be asked to provide blood and stool samples as well. They may also be asked to visit one of the four cities where the study is being conducted.

The National MS Society is sponsoring the study. For more information about it, including how to participate, please visit this link.


  1. Brenda Edbrooke says:

    I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have issues with my gut. I’m 63, my 20’s were a nightmare, I was diagnosed with candida in my 30’s and put on a special elimination diet along with vitamins to boost my immune system, the diet and vitamins helped me a lot. I was diagnosed with progressive MS in my late 40’s, I’ve repeatedly asked different neurologists if there could be anything to do with gut, immune systems and MS, all have deigned any reference to this. Yet I read more about this diagnosis every week!!!

  2. JoAnn Bigley says:

    My gut started to give me noticeable trouble about 6 years ago. I am 58 years and have had relapsing remitting MS since my early 20s. Three years ago I was also diagnosed with RA and fibro.

    I am almost always anemic. My stomach is bothersome most of the time. I would be interested in being a part of your study.

    • Jayne says:

      Unfortunately, one of the requirements to participate in the study is to not have any other autoimmune disease, and RA is one. I’d like to participate as well but I also have lupus, so that rules me out.

  3. Lisa White says:

    I was diagnosed with M.S. 30 years ago, I am 60 yrs. old…I have also had a fungal imbalance in my gut for at least the last 30 yrs…I was, probably, predisposed to this problem genetically as M.S. and auto-immune disease runs throughout my family…I am still considered Relapsing/Remitting however and manage ok…I am concerned that this fungus is mutating and will become a debilitating problem soon…I am a perfect example for this study

  4. Kim says:

    The International MS Microbiome Study Clinical Trial people need to know that the Captcha function on their “contact us” tab may be keeping interested subjects from reaching out to them.

    I’ve tried to submit my request multiple times from two different devices (both with updated browsers, javascript, etc.) and continually get a “sorry, an error occured” message.

    Really don’t think it’s me — I do everything by computer.

  5. Sherri Caughman says:

    I’ve always had a gut problem. Most inability to eliminate. Diagnosed at a young age with colonic inertia still at 54 have difficulty.

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