Monday, February 29, 2016
New era for ME/CFS research as top cytokine study attracts media headlines
The immune systems of patients who have recently developed ME/CFS look markedly different from those who have been ill for much longer, according to a major new study from Drs. Ian Lipkin and Mady Hornig at Columbia University. This shift in immune profile hadn’t been seen before.
“Perhaps the most significant evidence yet that chronic fatigue syndrome has a biological basis”, said the Wall Street Journal. The immune signature discovered might eventually be the “basis of the first diagnostic test for the illness”, said The New York Times. The prestigious New Yorker magazine mentions the study too.
This feels like a new era of ME/CFS research: big, rigorous studies by top researchers and clinicians, with media interest to match. Many more such studies are in the pipeline, including Dr. Montoya’s related immune profiling work, the large Open Medicine Institute immune gene sequencing project, and the huge CDC multi-clinic studies.
If other researchers can confirm the finding that there is an important difference between short and long duration patients — an important qualification — this work could change how we understand, study and look for treatments in ME/CFS.
“It appears that ME/CFS patients are flush with cytokines until around the three-year mark, at which point the immune system shows evidence of exhaustion and cytokine levels drop … This shows there are distinct stages to the disease.” — Dr. Mady Hornig