A second goal is to develop an efficient animal model that reflects the microbiotic composition found in patients and to test which bacteria are beneficial and which are harmful.
Gnotobiotic mice are derived in a sterile environment (isolators) and thus do not carry any detectable microbes. This system enables controlled experiments in which single or selected microbe species are introduced and their effects tested systematically. We will use this paradigm to understand the effect of specific microbes including those found to be in excess or diminished in MS patients. These experiments will be performed at a new mouse facility at UCSF, and at existing facilities at Caltech and the Max Planck Institute. The availability of three mouse testing laboratories is important as regional and laboratory-specific differences are not uncommon in these experiments. Comparing results across multiple facilities will help to identify microbes that contribute to the onset and the course of MS with universal applicability, or that can be modified based on regional differences.