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New Research Will Benefit Four Million Americans Suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

December 3, 2008

CHARLOTTE, N.C., Dec. 3 /PRNewswire/ — The four million Americans who
suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) have new reason for hope today with
the announcement of an unprecedented research program to help identify
biomarkers for the illness and improve diagnosis and treatment of CFS. The
announcement was made by the CFIDS Association of America, which is funding
the program, called the Accelerate CFS Research Initiative.

As part of this initiative, the CFIDS Association also announced today
research grants totaling $647,940 to six research teams in the U.S. and
Canada.

“These awards represent a new approach to CFS research,” said Suzanne
Vernon
, PhD, the CFIDS Association’s scientific director. “Instead of each
investigator working in isolation, we are building a network of researchers
and a framework for data sharing and collaboration not only among researchers
who receive grants from the CFIDS Association, but among scientists
worldwide.”

Vernon, a microbiologist who helped pioneer the application of genomics to
CFS, is now working to pioneer this new CFS research network and to direct the
Accelerate CFS Research Initiative. “We were very impressed with the number
and caliber of grant proposals we received this year, which signals a
heightened level of interest in CFS research,” said Vernon. “CFS, once shied
away from by some researchers, is now considered a legitimate and challenging
field of scientific inquiry.”

The grant recipients are:

Gordon Broderick, PhD, of the University of Alberta in Canada, who will
study the immune and endocrine response in adolescent patients who became ill
with CFS after contracting infectious mononucleosis, which is caused by the
Epstein-Barr virus. By studying patients from the time they get infectious
mononucleosis to the development of CFS and through the first 24 months of
illness, the researchers hope to identify disease progression biomarkers,
including those essential for early diagnosis.

Kathleen Light, PhD, of the University of Utah Health Sciences Center,
who will investigate the mechanisms involved in chronic pain that afflicts
40%-70% of CFS patients. This study will determine whether receptors located
on blood cells are increased and overactive in people with CFS and associated
with increased pain sensitivity. Light theorizes that increases in specific
receptors following exercise may be blood-based biomarkers for CFS and could
lead to a medical test to identify CFS patients.

Marvin Medow, PhD, of New York Medical College, who will investigate
how orthostatic intolerance, seen in many CFS patients, affects brain
function. This study will examine if CFS patients have increased pooling of
blood in the abdomen that results in reduced cerebral blood flow. Medow will
also investigate physiologic and oxidative stress changes associated with
disturbance in blood flow. These results will help determine if alterations in
blood flow affect brain metabolism.

— Bhubaneswar Mishra, PhD, of the Courant Institute of Mathematical
Sciences at NYU, who will use state-of-the-art bioinformatics and
computational biology tools to create a computational model of CFS-a kind of
“Google for CFS” that will be part database, part knowledge-base, part
research network. This new resource will provide a “systems view” of CFS that
accumulates published CFS literature and experimental data to disentangle
complex relationships among reported findings and discover causes of CFS.

Sanjay Shukla, PhD, of Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation, who will
use metagenomics to determine if the ratio of good to bad intestinal bacteria
in CFS patients is altered, and whether this imbalance in gut bacteria may be
responsible for triggering CFS symptoms. Recent advances in metagenomics have
demonstrated the significance of altered gastrointestinal bacteria in
illnesses like HIV, diabetes, Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease and
ulcerative colitis. Shukla theorizes that CFS patients also have an imbalance
of good and bad intestinal bacteria, resulting in enhanced intestinal
permeability-called leaky gut-allowing bacteria to move across the protective
intestinal barrier and causing chronic inflammation and immune activation in
CFS patients. This study will contribute to our understanding of the
relationship between the human microbiome and CFS. It may also lead to new
treatment options, including the use of probiotics.

— Dikoma Shungu, PhD, of Weill Medical College of Cornell University, who
will use a brain scanning technique called magnetic resonance spectroscopy to
confirm earlier findings that brain fluid of CFS patients contains
significantly elevated levels of lactate, a substance important in metabolism.
Shungu’s team will also investigate the reason for this phenomenon, exploring
whether lactate levels are higher in CFS patients because their brains contain
high levels of toxic compounds that cause a condition called oxidative stress
(which could implicate chronic inflammation), or because mitochondrial
dysfunction is causing malfunctions in the production of brain energy. If this
study is successful, brain lactate levels could provide an objective
diagnostic biomarker for CFS.

The Accelerate CFS Research Initiative was made possible by the successful
completion of a yearlong, million-dollar fundraising campaign, the largest
research campaign for CFS to date in the United States. The CFIDS Association
has funded more than $5.4 million in CFS research since 1987, making it second
only to the federal government in CFS research spending.

“This was a real grassroots campaign, with most contributions coming not
from major corporations or foundations, but from ordinary people whose lives
have been affected by the illness,” said Kimberly McCleary, president and CEO
of the CFIDS Association. “Patients, their family, friends and doctors stepped
up to give donations large and small to fuel the research initiative.”

“While support from individual American citizens is vital for research
progress,” McCleary noted, “more funding from the government, from biotech
firms and from the pharmaceutical industry is desperately needed. CFS affects
more Americans than many other well-known diseases, but receives far less
research funding.”

About the CFIDS Association of America

The CFIDS Association was founded in 1987 to stimulate high-quality CFS
research, improve the ability of health care professionals to diagnose and
manage the illness, provide educational information for patients and their
families, and build widespread public awareness of CFS. The organization has
invested more than $26 million in research, education and public policy and is
the largest charitable funder and advocate of CFS research in the U.S.

To learn more about CFS, visit http://www.cfids.org/cfs and
http://www.cdc.gov/cfs/cfsdiagnosis.htm

SOURCE CFIDS Association of America


Source: newswire



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