Clinical Trials & Studies


Investigation of the Probiotic VSL #3 in Multiple Sclerosis:

  • The gut contains the largest immune system in the body and there is evidence that immune activity in the gut can influence the systemic imune system. VSL #3 is a combination of bacteria that downregulate cytokines involved in autoimmune diseases in animal models. It has shown beneficial results in trials of ulcerative colitis, an autoimmune disease of the bowel.
  • We wish to assess whether VSL #3 alters the bacterial gut flora composition and/or causes favorable changes to the immune systems of MS patients–by examining stool samples, blood samples, and breath samples. Subjects will take VSL #3 (a powder) twice a day for 60 days. Samples will be collected before starting VSL #3, at the end of the 60 days, and again 3 months after stopping VSL #3.
  • Eligibility includes:
    • Healthy control subjects
    • MS subjects either taking Copaxone or no MS disease modifying treatment.


A comparison of the predominant gut flora in patients with Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis, Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis, and Healthy Adults:

  • Relationships between the gut microbiome (flora) and autoimmune illbess have been explored in the past, mostly in inflammatory bowl disease. We are now studying the microbiome in MS, as the gut flora may modulate both the effector and regulatory arm of T cell-mediated immunity.


Utility of methane detection as a biomarker for Multiple Sclerosis:

  • Studies of the MS gut microbiome have shown that those with MS produce more methane producing organisms in their stool than healthy controls. This study attempts to use a methane breath test, in place of stool collection, as a measurement for detecting the organism.


Research Study to evaluate the effects of Ibudilast versus placebo on Primary or Secondary Multiple Sclerosis:

  • Ibudilast (MN-166, aka AV411) is a small molecule macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) and phosphodiesterase (PDE)-4, 10-inhibitor drug candidate. Its molecular and cellular actions may represent a novel pharmacotherapy approach in progressive forms of MS.
  • The study lasts about 26 months and requires a total of 13 visits to the Partners MS Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Study participants are randomly assigned to receive either the study drug or a placebo. There is an equal chance of receiving either the study drug or placebo.  The study drug will be taken by mouth twice daily.
  • Eligibility includes:
    • Diagnosis of either Primary or Secondary Progressive MS
    • Able to walk independently or with assistance
    • Gradual worsening of symptoms in the past 1-2 years
    • Age 21-65 years old


Copaxone MRI Study:

  • A MRI study of patients with relapsing-remitting MS who are newly starting Glatiramer Acetate (Copaxone). We are investigating how adminstation of Copaxone affects the brain and spinal cords. Interested patients will undergo two MRIs of the brain and spinal cord prior to starting Copaxone and once each year following–both regular (1.5T) and high field strength (3.0T) MRI will be performed
  • The study will run for three years.


Genes and Environment in Multiple Sclerosis (GEMS); Integrating Genetic and Environmental Risks into an Algorithm to Predict Multiple Sclerosis Susceptibility:

  • To identify the genetic, environmental, and immune profiles that may increase a person’s risk of developing MS. Obtaining information about who is at risk for MS will be beneficila in the future if we can identify effective ways to prevent or slow down the progression of this disease.
  • Eligibility includes:·
    • Healhy first-degress relatives (parent, sibling or child) of MS patients who are between 18-50 years of age
  • Study coordinator: Irene Wood, 617-264-5980 or