Sergio Baranzini, PhD, The University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, discusses the ongoing research into the role of the gut microbiome in multiple sclerosis (MS). In gut microbiome studies, the microbiota is a suitable proxy for how environmental stressors affect the body. Indeed, changes in our environment, such as our diet or habitat, are likely reflected as changes in our gut microbiota since our bacteria respond almost immediately to environmental changes. Consequently, Prof. Baranzini was involved in launching the International MS Microbiome Study (IMSMS) in 2015, which aimed to establish a correlation between bacterial taxa and MS and determine the functions of those correlations. With over 1000 patients and controls having been recruited and 500 of them having been analyzed so far, the IMSMS is the largest study ever performed in MS and the gut microbiome. The results show high statistical significance with dozens of gut bacteria, as well as establishing associations with the severity of the disease. Furthermore, there are associations with disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) and how they can modify the gut microbiome. The next step is to start performing functional studies to elucidate how these bacteria modify the risk of MS. This interview took place during the 2022 Multiple Sclerosis at the Limits Conference in London, UK.
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