It’s possible to use metagenomic shotgun sequencing to look at complex microbial communities and see what types of microbes are present there, as well as their functions. However, sequencing does not give information about how quickly different species of bacteria within the community are growing. Microbial growth rates change based on different environmental conditions, give information about which microbes may be active contributors to community phenotypes, and can even be associated with multiple disease characteristics, so this information would be highly useful for assessing the effect of different microbes on human health. However, existing techniques to determine microbial growth rates have been difficult to utilize, and have important limitations.
Last week, our clinical core at Bateman Horne Center (BHC) posted an update on their blog about the progress that their clinic has made over the past four years. BHC is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to treating ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia patients. They are also focusing on becoming a Center of Excellence, where in addition to offering on-site care to patients, they also have a clinical research team, participate in community outreach, and offer educational and other social services.
BHC recently added two new physicians to their team, and are therefore able to further increase their capacity for treating and researching ME/CFS. The blog post introduces the new physicians and gives information about their backgrounds. It also outlines BHC’s new goal for 2019, which is to raise funds to launch Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes), which will provide tele-medicine services to support community-based physicians.
Solve ME/CFS Initiative (SMCI) has a regular free Webinar Series, which has the purpose of educating patients, researchers, and healthcare providers about ME/CFS. The webinars are held several times per year, and are live-streamed and later uploaded to Youtube for the community to watch. On December 6, 2018 at 10 am PT, SMCI’s Chief Scientific Officer (CSO), Sadie Whittaker, will be participating in the series.
Sadie’s webinar, titled “You + M.E.: A community resource, built by the community,” will focus on the SMCI Biobank and the redesign of its current process, plus their new patient registry. These are resources that SMCI hopes will reflect the needs and priorities of individuals suffering from ME/CFS. Participants can register for the webinar on SMCI’s website, as well as send in questions ahead of time that will be asked during the webinar.
One of the missions of our clinical core at Bateman Horne Center (BHC) in Salt Lake City, UT is to educate patients, doctors, and researchers about ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia (FM). In honor of Dr. Lucinda Bateman’s birthday on November 9th, BHC has launched a digital patient education series. The purpose of this series is to help patients learn more about different aspects of ME/CFS so that they can take these principles to their primary care providers (PCPs).
The video series will cover fundamental issues in ME/CFS through six videos, released weekly for six weeks, and include topics such as getting the right diagnosis, cognitive impairment, restorative sleep, and others. After signing up, a link will be sent by email to allow access to the videos. The second video will be released on November 16th, and will cover “Activity Intolerance and Post-Exertional Malaise (PEM).”
A new study in PNAS has linked the interaction between the intestinal epithelial barrier, the gut microbiome, and immune cells to intestinal inflammation. It is thought that the gut microbiota and immune cells contribute to gut inflammation, but until now, it has been difficult to identify exactly what triggers the onset of intestinal inflammation due to the complexity of the cross-talk between the multiple different cell types.
On October 23, the NIH will hold their third public ME/CFS Advocacy Telebriefing Call of 2018 to update the community on NIH’s efforts to advance research on ME/CFS, as well as to hear thoughtful feedback about the current efforts and research from the community. The call will be held from 12:00 – 1:00 pm ET.
To participate, you must first register for the event by emailing NIHME-CFSWorkingG@ninds.nih.gov and saying that you plan to attend. The telebriefing meeting can then be accessed by dialing 866-844-9416 and using the passcode 7178985. If you will be calling from another country, there is a chart with access information for each country available after registration.
For the next interview in our Spotlight series, I was able to take advantage of the opportunity to speak with a few members of the Data Management Coordinating Center (DMCC) for the ME/CFS project, who work at RTI International, during a recent site visit we had here at JAX. Linda Brown, PhD, the new Principle Investigator (PI) for the project, is an epidemiologist who has many years of experience working with NIH. Becky McNeil, PhD is a research statistician, and Matt Schu, PhD specializes in bioinformatics and data integration. Keep reading to learn more about their backgrounds, how RTI became involved in ME/CFS research, and the DMCC’s plans for integrating data and driving collaboration between the three centers.