Newswise — A breakthrough in the understanding of how altered gut bacteria breaks immune tolerance towards the brain, and how this can trigger the immune system to attack brain tissue, will be presented as the subject of the keynote Kenneth P. Johnson Memorial Lecture on the opening day of the Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS) Forum 2018. ACTRIMS Forum 2018 will take place Feb. 1-3, in San Diego, California, U.S.

An altered gut microbiota, known as dysbiosis, is often observed in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), but it has not been clear how this contributes to the onset or progression of the disease. New research, conducted by Suhayl Dhib-Jalbut, M.D., Sudhir Yadav, Ph.D. and Kouichi Ito, Ph.D., all investigators at the Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Center for Multiple Sclerosis, provides evidence that dysbiosis stimulates the development of pathogenic T cells in mice, thereby initiating or exacerbating an animal model of MS.

This discovery has potential therapeutic implications in MS by manipulating the composition of gut bacteria, according to study researcher Dhib-Jalbut, who will present the findings of the team’s research.

Furthermore, “the findings could have potential implications on other autoimmune diseases above and beyond MS,” says Dhib-Jalbut.

The late Kenneth P. Johnson, M.D., University of Maryland, led the effort to found ACTRIMS in 1996. The Memorial Lecture honors Johnson by providing an opportunity for ACTRIMS audiences to hear from prestigious clinicians or researchers selected for their knowledge, accomplishments and contributions related to MS.

ACTRIMS Forum brings together researchers and clinicians to share developments in the rapidly changing field of MS. More information about ACTRIMS Forum 2018, and the Kenneth P. Johnson Memorial Lecture appears on the event’s website at

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Founded in 1995, Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS) is a community of leaders from the United States and Canada who are dedicated to the treatment and research in MS and other demyelinating diseases. ACTRIMS focuses on knowledge dissemination, education and collaboration among disciplines. ACTRIMS also provides a forum for experienced and newer clinicians and researchers to exchange information, debate current issues and discuss advances related to basic research and clinical issues.