Frontiers Review Article: ME/CFS Syndrome in the Era of the Human Microbiome

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An interesting opinion review article was recently published in Frontiers in Pediatrics, and discusses ME/CFS research about the immune system, microbiome, metabolome, and other fields, and then uses this information to generate a hypothesis on ME/CFS symptoms. The authors also put forward some interesting hypotheses on potential new treatment approaches.

ME/CFS has been strongly linked to infectious agents, including Epstein Barr Virus (EBV), Lyme disease, Herpes Virus 6 (HHV6), and many others. But researchers have been unable to pinpoint a definite infectious agent. The primary author of the review, Amy Proal, argues that since many well-studied inflammatory conditions are now being tied to dysbiosis, or disruption, of the human microbiome, initial infection with various agents could be causing similar clusters of inflammatory symptoms seen in ME/CFS.

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Stanford Study: Potential Nanoelectronics-Blood-Based Diagnostic Biomarker for ME/CFS

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Source: med.stanford.edu

A major problem that ME/CFS patients have to endure is the lack of reliable diagnostics of the disease. Many patients suffer for years to rule out other diseases before an ME/CFS diagnosis can be established. Ron Davis’ group at Stanford University has recently published a small-scale, yet promising study to solve this problem. They report identifying ME/CFS patient samples from healthy controls, and with very high accuracy.

Previous studies have shown that there are abnormalities in many metabolic pathways in ME/CFS, so the team developed a new blood test to measure these differences. They used a nanoelectronic assay, where cells in patient blood samples are stressed using salt, and then that stress is measured by looking at the change in flow of electrical activity across thousands of electrodes. For blood samples from ME/CFS patients, the disruption to the electrical current was much larger than it was for blood samples from healthy controls. Using this significant disruption as a marker for ME/CFS, they were able to identify all 20 ME/CFS patients in their study as having ME/CFS, and had no false positives in their 20 healthy controls.

In addition to being a cost-effective diagnostic tool, the nanoelectronic assay could also be used to evaluate the efficacy of drugs that could treat ME/CFS. Hopefully, this early pilot study will soon be validated in larger patient cohorts and in other diseases.

To read the full article in PNAS, click here. 
To read the news article on Stanford’s website, click here. 

HealthRising Review of NIH Accelerating Research on ME/CFS Meeting

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Recently, the Accelerating Research on ME/CFS Meeting was hosted by the NIH in Bethesda, MD on April 4th and 5th, 2019. In addition to the two-day conference, the NIH also hosted a meeting on April 3rd, called Thinking the Future, which was a workshop designed for young/early career ME/CFS investigators to learn key networking and grant writing skills, and give presentations on their own ME/CFS research ideas. The overall goal of the three-day event was to bring researchers together to share their latest results, with the intention of driving the ME/CFS research field forward by identifying gaps and opportunities through presentations of newer research by experts as well as newcomers to the field.

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BHC: Second Annual Meeting for ME/CFS Clinician Coalition

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Source: batemanhornecenter.org

Batmen Horne Center (BHC), our clinical core for the JAX CRC, recently held their second annual ME/CFS Expert Clinician Summit in Salt Lake City, UT. ME/CFS clinicians from all around the United States attended, hoping to grow a collaborative network of disease experts and identify ways to improve clinical care for patients suffering from ME/CFS. ME/CFS is quite common, affecting between 1 to 2.5 million Americans, yet many people with the disease remain undiagnosed or struggle to get appropriate clinical care because of harmful treatment recommendations and physicians who don’t understand ME/CFS or how to properly manage it.

The clinicians who attended the summit hope to bridge this gap in understanding by reaching consensus on clinical practices, and sharing this information on a new website so that it can reach clinicians everywhere. It is especially important to reach clinicians who are just beginning to develop expertise in treating ME/CFS, as many of the current specialists are nearing retirement age, and new clinicians are needed in the field. This effort is being led by advocate Mary Dimmock and Dr. Lucinda Bateman, who says that, “it was an honor to meet again with the ME/CFS experts to share knowledge, collaborate and seek consensus regarding our core messages and aspects of this illness. Our individual goals are varied, but we learn from each other, and hope to weave the common threads together into strong advice for clinicians, and forward progress toward much needed treatment trials.”

To read about the Summit on Bateman Horne Center’s website, click here. 

The Jackson Laboratory: Perspectives on ME/CFS

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The Jackson Laboratory has just released a new launch page on their website about ME/CFS, with the hope of increasing awareness about the disease. The page includes links to recent feature articles, including one from February 2019 that highlights the JAX CRC that’s being led by Derya Unutmaz, MD, and a Q&A with Courtney Gunter from earlier this month about the importance of science communication, especially with ME/CFS. There are also new videos that offer more information from the perspectives of the physician, the researcher, the caregivers, and the patient, as well as calls to action for donations to support ME/CFS research.

Check out the ME/CFS section of JAX’s website here. 

NIH Accelerating Research on ME/CFS Meeting

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On Thursday April 4 and Friday April 5, 2019, NIH will be hosting the Accelerating Research on ME/CFS meeting in Bethesda, MD. The two-day meeting, which has the goal of driving the ME/CFS research field forward by identifying gaps and opportunities through presentations of newer research, will be webcast and made publicly available. Experts as well as newcomers in the ME/CFS field will be presenting their research, and there will also be several panel discussions. From Jackson Labs, Derya Unutmaz, MD, will present on the link between the microbiome and immune system, and Julia Oh, PhD, will also discuss the importance of the microbiome in ME/CFS. Dr. Lucinda Bateman of Bateman Horne Center (BHC), will talk about orthostatic intolerance as part of a clinician panel. There will also be a group discussion Q&A moderated by Terri Wilder of #MEAction.

The day before the conference, on April 3, 2019, NIH will also host a workshop for young/early career ME/CFS investigators, called Thinking the Future. Attendees will learn key networking and grant writing skills, listen to a panel of non-profit funders, and give presentations on their own ME/CFS research ideas. Attendees will also have the opportunity to participate in a poster session at the first day of the Accelerating Research on ME/CFS meeting on April 4th.

To register for the Accelerating Research on ME/CFS meeting, click here. 
To learn more about the Thinking the Future workshop, click here. 

Perspective: Life on the front line of ME/CFS research

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Courtney Gunter; source: jax.org by Charles Camarda

A new perspective spotlight article has just been posted on the Jackson Laboratory website about Courtney Gunter, the JAX ME/CFS Collaborative Research Center’s Program Manager. Courtney was interviewed to learn more about her role at the Center, including how she became interested in ME/CFS research, why the JAXMECFS blog was started, and what it’s like to run it. The interview also covers what her thoughts are on the current state of the ME/CFS field, and which blog posts were her favorite to write.

To check out the article on JAX’s website, click here.