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Research Digest 20/09/19

Welcome to the 32nd Emerge Australia Research Digest, where you will find summaries of some of the latest research and information about ME/CFS, with links to the complete articles.

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A systematic review of cytokines in chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis/systemic exertion intolerance disease (CFS/ME/SEID)

Authors: Corbitt M, Eaton-Fitch N, Staines D, Cabanas H, Marshall-Gradisnik S.


This literature review looked at whether there was a significant difference in cytokine levels between ME/CFS patients and healthy controls.The review examined 15 studies that met the criteria for further analysis.

Across the 15 studies, 64 cytokines were analysed. Despite moderate quality studies,results were inconclusive as to whether cytokines play a definitive role in ME/CFS, other than evidence of concurrent inflammatory process.

The review also identified several limitations in these studies, including that most of the studies’ analyses used the Fukuda criteria, which is very broad, and means that characteristics of the patient samples are likely to differ between studies.

The authors concluded that cytokines are unlikely to be useful as biomarkers for ME/CFS,and that more research is needed towards a diagnostic test and treatment for ME/CFS.

Federal agency announces $1.4 million to research chronic fatigue syndrome

Author: Canadienne P.


The Canadian government and Canadian Institutes of Health Research announced that they will spend $1.4 million to create a national research network to study ME/CFS. About 500,000 Canadians have ME/CFS.

Dr Alain Moreau, a prominent ME/CFS researcher, said, ‘many of my colleagues would agree that myalgic encephalomyelitis is probably the medical mystery of the 21st century, and one reason for our lack of progress, even if it isn’t a rare disease, is the fact that not many researchers are interested in it and there has been a lack of financing.’

Reduced diversity and altered composition of the gut microbiome in individuals with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome

Authors: Giloteaux L, Goodrich JK, Walters WA, Levine SM, Ley RE, Hanson MR.


Gastrointestinal disturbance is a common symptom of ME/CFS. This study examined the gut microbiota of ME/CFS patients and healthy controls. These researchers found that ME/CFS patients have less biodiversity of gut microbiota compared with healthy controls. In addition, ME/CFS patients were more likely to have higher gut bacteria species that are reported as pro-inflammatory and less of those that are anti-inflammatory. There were also elevated levels of blood markers for microbial translocation (meaning that gut bacteria are found outside the gut) for ME/CFS patients than for healthy controls.

In summary, the results indicate imbalance or maladaptation of the gut microbiota in ME/CFS patients, and an increased incidence of microbial translocation which may play a role in inflammatory symptoms of the illness.

A town for people with chronic fatigue syndrome

Author: Mariani M.


The author shares his personal experience with chronic fatigue syndrome, characterised in his case by post-exertional malaise and extreme exhaustion after Epstein-Barr virus.

The article provides a comprehensive history on chronic fatigue syndrome and the controversies surrounding it. It explains the dominant theory at present that [chronic fatigue syndrome] may not have a single etiology, but may instead be a dysfunctional state of the immune system triggered by one of several ailments. It also highlights the significant lack of funding in the USA towards the disease.

The particular town the author refers to, Incline Village in Nevada, is known for its trial and implementation of the drug Ampligen. The author explains his experience with the drug, which had no effect on him, and states that the trial was ceased during his time there by the pharmaceutical company. He also outlines the journeys of other patients who did have varying successes with the drug. The article concludes with the author reflecting on the news that the drug trial is currently recruiting new participants.

Note: Ampligen has not been approved for use in Australia by the Therapeutic Goods Administration. It is not possible for any Australian doctor to prescribe it.

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