Thank you for your interest in supporting the Microbes in MS research. This overview of the project explains our overarching goal: to find the cause of MS.
CONTEXT Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a relatively common and sometimes devastating neurologic disease. Infection has long been suspected as a trigger for this disease, but no one has determined exactly which microbes are involved. Our group has developed a method for detecting microbial signatures in preserved tissues. We have used deep (next generation) sequencing, comparing the results with a large microbial database to show that microbial RNA sequence and protein do exist in MS brain plaques (diseased tissue), different than controls. On average, the MS brain lesions have more microbial sequences than comparator (control) brain tissue. You can read more about our results in this team article published in Scientific Reportson February 4, 2019, or download the article here. The article provides a list of MS Microbial Candidates to guide future research. We believe this represents a major discovery in the field and is the subject of a new US Patent Application (# 62785377).
THE GAP The cause of MS remains unknown, but is discoverable. Clues about the origin of the disease are provided in spinal fluid taken from MS patients. The presence of “oligoclonal bands”—antibodies produced in the spinal fluid against something (but not myelin or other human proteins)—leaves a tantalizing trail. We suspect that MS may be triggered by the microbes that we have found in MS plaques. If this is true, it provides strong support to the causal role of some of the MS Microbial Candidates in our study.
PRIORITY Our research plan is to develop tests to detect microbes themselves (a direct test) and immune reactivity against microbes (an indirect test) in the spinal fluid of MS patients. The direct test could be achieved through the development of multiple PCR assays. We are developing indirect tests now: ELISA assays against MS microbial candidates. These ELISA assays will be used to direct oligoclonal band subtraction assays which will be necessary to prove causality.
IMPACT This work could be transformative in the MS field. Rather than focusing on the immune response, we seek to identify the microbial triggers of this response. Such information could be used to direct highly effective antimicrobial treatments in patients dealing with new onset, progressive, or recurrent MS. Such directed treatments might limit or reverse the demyelination process. The earlier we can intervene to help patients, the better their chances of reversing or limiting the damage.
THE TEAM Dr. John Kriesel, an infectious disease specialist, leads our team. Laboratory specialists Dr. Preetida Bhetariya and Emily Eckman oversee testing. Dr Kael Fischer is a computer scientist with special skills in metagenomics and bioinformatics.
If this research resonates with you, please join us in the search for the cause of multiple sclerosis.
THANKS FOR YOUR INTEREST
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