Media and Research Digest (007)

Friday 27th July 2018

Welcome to the Seventh Emerge Australia Media and Research Digest!

The fortnightly summary of media and research about Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS)

1 – Reduced Glycolytic Reserve in Isolated Natural Killer Cells from ME/CFS Patients: A Preliminary Investigation 

Authors: Nguyen, T., Staines, D., Johnston, S. & Marshall-Gradisnik, S.


A preliminary study into the metabolic function of resting natural killer (NK) cells from ME/CFS patients has been carried out by Australia’s Griffith University. ME/CFS is associated with a significant reduction in NK cytotoxic activity. The activity depends on glycolytic flux and mitochondrial respiration to carry out cellular demands. Mitochondrial dysfunction has previously been reported in ME/CFS patients. Mitochondrial stress and glycolytic stress were measured in the study. The study compared six ME/CFS patients and six healthy controls (matched by age and gender). The median age of participants was around 50 years old.

The results showed a significant reduction of glycolytic reserve in resting NK cells from ME/CFS patients compared with healthy controls, where no statistically significant difference was found for mitochondrial respiration between patients and healthy controls.

Findings from the study indicate that resting NK cells in ME/CFS have a reduced ability to increase glycolytic flux to respond to high energetic demands for ATP production. Therefore, further investigation should be done for the identified reduced glycolytic reserve in resting NK cells in order to understand the pathogenesis of ME/CFS.

2  – Severe Eosinophilic Colitis Following Treatment with Gabapentin and Pregabalin in ME/CFS Patient

Authors: Fragkos, K.C., Barragry, J., Fernando, C.S., Novelli, M., Begent, J. & Zárate-Lopez, N.


Gabapentin and pregabalin are commonly prescribed medicines to control pain for people who suffer from ME/CFS. In this case report, a young female adult with ME/CFS was treated with the two medications. Following treatment she experienced abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and eosinophilia which improved after the medications were discontinued.

Although it is a rare clinical condition and the mechanism is still unclear, suspicion of eosinophilic colitis should be raised for patients with such symptoms following treatment with gabapentin or pregabalin.

3 – Data from metabolite and microbiome study takes scientists a step closer to a test for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome


A study at the Centre for Infection and Immunity (CII) at Columbia University has identified irregular metabolite levels within ME/CFS patients. They found that by combining these results with data from a previous microbiome study, they can predict whether someone has ME/CFS with a confidence level of 84 per cent.

Metabolites are microscopic by-products of human and microbial metabolic processes. The study involved blood samples from fifty ME/CFS patients and fifty controls which identified altered levels of metabolites suggestive of dysfunction of the mitochondria. The previous microbiome study identified that people with ME/CFS had abnormal levels of gut bacteria. By combining these two studies, they reported an 84 percent accuracy in identifying ME/CFS.

The research also allows for the possibility that researchers may soon be able to engineer an animal model of ME/CFS which could then be used to test hypotheses about the illness and develop treatments.

4 – Unrest wins the Independent Lens Award!


Airing weekly on PBS primetime in America ‘Independent Lens’ is television’s largest showcase of independent documentary films. Each year they hold an audience vote to decide the best film from the previous year.

This year the Independent Lens Audience Award for best documentary from 2017-2018 was awarded to Unrest – with a record number of votes recorded! Independent Lens announced the win as follows:-

Congrats to filmmaker Jennifer Brea and her team on this honor. And congrats to all the films on an exciting, hard-fought contest which showed how many of our fans loved a diverse array of films broadcast this season. Thanks to all of you who voted.

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