Gut Feeling Gut Bacteria MS

There is a growing interest in the role of gut bacteria in inflammatory disorders such as MS. Gut bacteria (also referred to as our microbiome) play a crucial role in our digestive tracts by assisting with digestion of our food and producing beneficial chemicals for the body to use. However, this may just be the tip of the iceberg and the complete and complex picture of the role gut bacteria play only just beginning to be revealed.

Previously it has been shown that there are potential differences in gut bacteria between those with MS and those without MS. Now two studies published by two collaborating groups in the prestigious journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (here and here) have revealed more about the link between gut bacteria and MS.

The first study led by Hartmut Wekerle at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology, Germany, examined 34 pairs of identical twins where one had MS and the other didn’t. They compared the gut bacteria between the twins however they were unable to identify any obvious differences between the siblings. There were greater differences between different families than between each twin pair, which highlights the stronger influence of diet and geography in influencing our gut bacteria.

However, when the researchers took samples of gut bacteria from 5 pairs of twins (where one had MS and the other didn’t) and transplanted those bacteria into mice with a predisposition to an MS-like illness, they found that more mice developed an MS like disease if they had received the gut bacteria from the twin with MS. However, it is important to note, that receiving gut bacteria from the healthy twin did not prevent MS.

The scientists also looked at how the gut bacteria influenced the immune system in these mice. They didn’t detect any difference in the numbers of different types of immune cells. However, the mice that received gut bacteria from people with MS showed lower levels of an immune system chemical called IL-10. IL-10 is known to play a ’calming’ regulatory role in the immune system.

These results suggest that there are some differences in gut bacteria in those with MS, and these bacteria can influence the immune system in a way that promotes MS-like inflammation.

The second study led by Sergio Baranzini at the University of California San Francisco examined the gut bacteria of 71 people with MS and 71 people without MS. While their study showed some similar findings to the German group, they did find that there were a couple of specific bacterial families which were altered in people with MS.

They then exposed healthy immune cells grown in the test tube to extracts taken from these types of bacteria that were more common in people with MS. This caused an increase in the types of immune cells that cause inflammation and a decrease in cells which are responsible for suppressing the immune system.

As with the German study, the scientists then transplanted gut bacteria from people with MS or without MS into mice which had an MS-like disease and they found that the bacteria from people with MS lead to more severe disease.

Article courtesy of MS Research Australia www.msra.org.au

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Julia Howell

Trustee

Julia is a qualified nurse and midwife, with a varied career including specialising in eating disorders, primary healthcare, and management.    

Julia, in partnership with a GP, set up an outpatient clinical trials unit (Southern Clinical Trials). Under her leadership this grew into a network of 6 sites across NZ. This network merged with another one in 2021 to form PCRN, NZ’s largest clinical trials network. Julia is currently working as joint COO for PCRN.

Julia’s daughter was diagnosed with MS aged 14 and she has been intimately involved with her management over the years.

 

Jan Campbell

Trustee

Born in Ōtautahi Jan trained as a nurse in Christchurch, as a midwife in Winchester, UK and has a degree in philosophy with particular interest in healthcare and business ethics.

After working in the public health system in the UK and NZ, Jan joined Roche Pharmaceuticals based in Auckland in 1999. As a respected senior leader and Medical Director, she established a medical division over the ensuing 20 years responsible for significant investment in clinical trials in NZ, developing a top-class global medicine information service, compassionate medicine supply for kiwis in need, pharmacovigilance oversight and a team working closely with patients, specialists, MEDSAFE and PHARMAC to support the safe and appropriate use of Roche medicines.

As a retiree Jan has volunteered for Mercy Hospice in Auckland and the WBoP Museum in Katikati. Now living in Ōtepoti, Jan sits on both the MS Research Trust and MSNZ executive committees with a keen interest to ensure people with MS get a fair go in NZ.

Dr Elza Cloete

Trustee

Elza is a Neonatal Paediatrician at Christchurch Women’s Hospital. Originally from South Africa, she moved to New Zealand in 2006 and completed her specialist training in Auckland.

Subsequent to that she embarked on doctoral studies at the University of Auckland’s Liggins Institute and obtained a PhD investigating congenital heart disease in new-born babies.

Elza received the Vice-Chancellor’s award for best doctoral thesis for her research and is the author of several research publications. She moved to Christchurch in 2020 for a work opportunity in clinical practice.

Elza was diagnosed with MS in 2012 and brings a consumer perspective and research experience to the Trust.

Dr Ernie Willoughby

Trustee

Dr Willoughby has been a consultant neurologist at Auckland City Hospital (1979 to 2021 – now retired, emeritus) and clinical associate professor at Auckland University School of Medicine.

He directed the MS clinic at Auckland Hospital, has had a long association with the Auckland and NZ MS Societies, and is a member of the International Medical and Scientific Board of the MS International Federation.

Dr Brian Linehan

Independent Trustee

Dr Brian Linehan is a retired pathologist who was previously Managing Director of Medlab Hamilton.

He is currently Chairman of the Tranmere group of investment companies and a Director of a number of other private companies. In 2014, he retired after 12 years on the Council of the University of Waikato where he was Pro-Chancellor.

He is a past Chairman of the New Zealand Medical Association, past Chairman of NZMA Ethics Committee, past President and Chairman of CMAAO (Combined Medical Associations of Asia and Oceania) and past Chairman of IANZ (International Accreditation NZ).

Brian was diagnosed with MS in 2007 but is still active and mobile.

Peter Wood - JP, BCom, AGNZ, ACIS, FNZTA

Treasurer

Peter gained his commerce degree at Victoria University of Wellington and has been practising as a Chartered Accountant initially in Wellington and then in Tauranga.

Peter was a respected and trusted advisor to many businesspeople.
He is now resident in Auckland and consultants to a limited number business clients.

He has also served his community through involvement with Jaycees, Lions and Rotary clubs and a number of charitable trusts.

Peter is currently the Treasurer of Multiple Sclerosis Auckland and a trustee of the Multiple Sclerosis Auckland Trust. Peter is a Justice of the Peace and a member Governance New Zealand and is a Fellow of the NZ Trustees’ Association.

Neil Woodhams

Trustee

Neil is an independent health management consultant who has had an extensive career in health management as a senior manager or consultant to government, DHBs, primary care and community providers. 

Neil is President of MS New Zealand and a trustee of the MS Auckland Region Trust. Neil was also President of MS Auckland until he stepped down from this role mid-2020 to concentrate on his national roles.

Neil’s wife was diagnosed with MS in 1994. One of his four sons was also diagnosed in 2010.

Neil strongly believes in the objectives of the NZ Multiple Sclerosis Research Trust and has advocated for the establishment of the Trust for over 10 years.

Sir William Gallagher

Trustee

Sir William is renowned as a motivational, pragmatic and hands-on businessman in and outside of New Zealand and has a reputation both as a dynamic leader and one of NZ’s most astute businessmen.

Still very involved in the daily operation, he maintains regular contact with customers in the 130 countries in which Gallagher products are sold spending up to 150 days a year on the road representing the company and its philosophies and emphasising the ethics and integrity of his professional and personal dealings.

His achievements have been officially recognised by a string of awards, the latest to mark his commitment to enterprise and leadership skills being his Knighthood in the 2010 New Year’s Honours List. He was also the 1996 winner of the prestigious Excellence in Communication Leadership award, the first time in its history that it had been awarded outside of North America. He also received an MBE in 1987 followed by a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) in 1998.

Sir William Gallagher - KNZM, MBE. HonD

Patron

Sir William is renowned as a motivational, pragmatic and hands-on businessman in and outside of New Zealand and has a reputation both as a dynamic leader and one of NZ’s most astute businessmen.

Still very involved in the daily operation, he maintains regular contact with customers in the 130 countries in which Gallagher products are sold spending up to 150 days a year on the road representing the company and its philosophies and emphasising the ethics and integrity of his professional and personal dealings.

His achievements have been officially recognised by a string of awards, the latest to mark his commitment to enterprise and leadership skills being his Knighthood in the 2010 New Year’s Honours List. He was also the 1996 winner of the prestigious Excellence in Communication Leadership award, the first time in its history that it had been awarded outside of North America. He also received an MBE in 1987 followed by a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) in 1998.