Science perspective: Immune cells for microbiota surveillance

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Graphic: A. Kitterman, Science

JAX CRC investigators Derya Unutmaz and Julia Oh have written a Science Immunology perspective review on two exciting articles that have just been published in Science, which show very close interactions between an immune cell subtype called mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells and the microbiota. MAIT cells are a special type of T cell that are stimulated by vitamin B2 derivatives that have been produced by bacteria, and it is thought that MAIT cells control the immune response to bacterial, fungal and even some viral infections.

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AAEM 2019 Fall Conference on Fatigue: A Complex Diagnosis and Treatment Dilemma

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On October 10-13th, 2019, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) is sponsoring a four-day conference in Lexington, KY. The conference, which has a different focus each year that relates to environmental medicine, is called “Fatigue: A Complex Diagnosis and Treatment Dilemma,” and is largely focused on ME/CFS. The presenters, who are mostly physicians, will cover a wide variety of topics relevant to ME/CFS and other forms of fatigue, and include Dr. Nancy Klimas, who will talk about her work using systems biology to study how the autonomic nervous system and immune system interact in ME/CFS. Other speakers include Dikoma Shungu, PhD, of the Cornell CRC, who will discuss the role oxidative stress in the brain plays in ME/CFS, and Dr. Lucinda Bateman, MD, of the JAX CRC clinical core, who will discuss how physicians can assess the ME/CFS core symptoms by using measurements such as Hours of Upright Activity (HUA) and orthostatic testing to aid in diagnosis and treatment of patients with ME/CFS.

The entire AARM four-day conference is available to livestream, and video will be made available on each day of the livestream through November 25th. Each day of the conference costs $50 to access.

Click here to register for the livestream. 

Frontiers Editorial: Advances in ME/CFS Research and Clinical Care

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An interesting and informative editorial was recently published in Frontiers in Pediatrics, and discusses advances in ME/CFS research and clinical care. The authors, which include Dr. Lucinda Bateman, MD, who is part of our clinical core at Bateman Horne Center for the JAX CRC, present an in-depth view of the research that is being done in the ME/CFS field, and the patient care issues that are also being addressed.

The authors delve into the history of how different groups have informed the US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) through the years about ME/CFS, including the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Coordinating Committee and the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Advisory Committee (CFSAC). However, the charter was recently not renewed for CFSAC. The editorial also discusses how there are very few ME/CFS physicians, and because there are no diagnostic tests or treatments for the disease, the physicians that do treat ME/CFS patients are forced to rely on symptoms to guide their treatment, and typically focus on attempting symptomatic relief.

Despite these obstacles, there are many researchers, clinicians, and caregivers who are working to advance the science and treatment for ME/CFS. The authors outline a monograph of recent articles in Frontiers in Pediatrics that cover a wide range of issues encountered in ME/CFS, including a brief history of the struggle for disease recognition, the need to identify a cause or trigger, which symptoms best characterize the disease, the range of current ongoing ME/CFS laboratory and clinical research, and guidance to primary care physicians in diagnosing and managing ME/CFS patients. Next, researchers and clinicians are writing articles on “ME/CFS—The Severely Affected,” which will provide a description of ME/CFS throughout the range of its severity. It has been difficult to acknowledge the challenges faced by people with severe ME/CFS, so this coming issue will address this unmet need.

To read the editorial and find links to the ME/CFS Frontiers articles, click here.