Thursday, June 14, 2018

ME/CFS Research Update - Spring 2018

I have fallen behind these past couple of months on the blog, due to too much going on at home with my family - travel, graduation (yay!), family visits, and my sons moving back home from college. For several weeks now, I've only managed blog posts on TV reviews and Weekly Inspiration (and not even every week for those). During that time, the number of open tabs on my browser has grown steadily because I keep seeing news of new research or treatments for ME/CFS and thinking, "I need to mention this on my blog." So, I am finally getting to some of that, so I can close of a few of those browser tabs and catch up a bit.

This is by no means a comprehensive summary of all ME/CFS research reported this spring - thankfully, that keeps growing and is too much for me to include all in one post - but I've included a few choice studies that have been released recently that might change things for ME/CFS patients and/or lead to important breakthroughs.

Stay Informed
First, some great resources for keeping up-to-date on what's happening in the ME/CFS research world - this is where I usually get my information:
Top Research News
So, some of the latest big updates from the ME/CFS research world include:
  • Scientists Discover Promising "Off-Switch" for Inflammatory Diseases - Although ME/CFS is not specifically mentioned in this article, this joint study by American, Irish, and British scientists is important for ME/CFS patients. It is now well-understood that ME/CFS is a disease characterized by high levels of inflammation which contribute to many of our symptoms. So, this new research that found a potential "off-switch," a biochemical made by the body called itaconate, could lead to an important treatment approach for us.
  • Infection Elicited Autoimmunity and ME/CFS: An Explanatory Model - This study conducted by a team of Swedish and Libyan scientists proposes a model to explain the process that initiates and sustains ME/CFS, based on other recent studies of the disease that have been reported. Their theory involves an infectious trigger and a cascade of immune dysfunction effects, leading to problems with endocrine dysfunction, energy production, orthostatic intolerance, and more. We need this kind of scientific study that pulls together the wide variety of research occurring in different fields to propose models that explain the disease as a whole - only by understanding its genesis and how it is sustained can we hope to figure out how to stop the process. 
  • Exercise Elevates Blood Signature Difference Between People With and Without ME/CFS - Top ME/CFS researcher and clinician Dr. Jose Montoya at Stanford University found that taking blood samples after exercise better allowed doctors to identify the ME/CFS patients versus sedentary controls. This is very important because we desperately need a solid way to diagnose ME/CFS, and while many studies have found abnormal identifiers in the blood of some patients, it is not always a reliable indicator in all patients. This work could lead to a combined exercise-blood testing approach to help diagnose ME/CFS (obviously this would not work in those so severely affected that they can't exercise at all, even for a test).
Lots of good news and continuing research into all aspects of ME/CFS! The rate of new discoveries and study reports just keeps increasing, as funding grows and more scientists get involved. These are trends we need!

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