The Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills – which oversees the work of the UK’s Medical Research Council – has confirmed plans by The MRC for a panel of experts to review the subtypes and causes of ME/CS.
The Minister of State for Science and Innovation, Ian Pearson MP, revealed this week that the Medical Research Council is planning to set up a panel of experts from different disciplines to look more closely at the area.
In reply to a written question from Horsham MP and Conservative front bench spokesman Francis Maud, the Minister wrote:
"The panel will come from varied fields including neuroscience, immunology, toxicology and imaging, and will involve interested parties and focus on the subtypes and causes of ME/CFS".
Mr Maud had asked whether the Secretary of State for Health would set up an independent scientific committee to oversee research into ME/CFS. Mr Pearson said there were no plans for an independent committee. This was presumably because the intention is not to interfere with remit of the Medical Research Council.
This major development follows the recent MRC announcement that Stephen Holgate, professor of clinical pharmacology at the University of Southampton, would head up the panel of experts. Professor Holgate hosted the conference of ME/CFS biomedical research that took place in Southampton on 12 February.
In a related written question, Mr Maud asked whether the Secretary of State for Health would take steps to ensure that Government funding for biomedical research on ME/CFS was equal to Government funding of psychological research on ME/CFS. (This was a key recommendation of the Gibson Report into the state of ME/CFS research in the UK, which was published in November 20086.)
Again, the reply came from Ian Pearson.
He said: The Medical Research Council is committed to funding scientific research into all aspects of myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome including evaluations of other treatments and studies into the biological and psychological basis of the condition. The amount provided by the MRC to each type of research depends on the quality and number of proposals received.