Science is shedding light on a little understood condition that affects many people.
Despite the number of theories developed over the last few decades, there has been little progress in getting to the biological basis of chronic fatigue syndrome or myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME). Most recently, a number of studies have demonstrated abnormalities in the gut microbiome and blood metabolites of ME patients.
However, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine, US, have recently reported a blood test capable of indentifying ME patients. The test, which is still in pilot phase, is based on how a person’s immune cells respond to stress. With blood samples from 40 people, 20 with ME and 20 without, the test accurately flagged all ME patients and none of the healthy individuals.
The diagnostic technology contains thousands of electrodes that create an electrical current, as well as a chamber to hold simplified blood samples composed of immune cells and plasma. Inside the chambers the immune cells and plasma interfere with the current, changing its flow from one end to another. It was found that the bigger the change in current, the bigger the changes happening on a cellular level. A large change in current indicated that the cells and plasma were not processing stress from the body properly.
Researchers are not certain as to why the cells and plasma are responding in the way they are, but they are now experimenting with a larger group of individuals. It is believed that the research could help in the process of identifying possible drugs to treat ME.
For further details visit this month’s Chemistry & Industry