In his third parliamentary question about ME this week, Stroud MP David Drew asked the Secretary of State for Health whether his Department plans to provide funding for biomedical research into the causes, transmission and treatment of (a) myalgic encephalomyelitis and (b) other xenotropic murine leukaemia virus-related illnesses.
A written reply was supplied by David Lammy, minister of state for higher education and intellectual property in the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, who said he had been asked to reply. He wrote:
“The Medical Research Council (MRC) is one of the main agencies through which the Government support medical and clinical research. The MRC is a non-departmental public body which receives its grant in aid from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
“The MRC does not normally allocate funds to particular topics: research proposals in all areas compete for the funding available. When appropriate, high quality research in particularly areas of strategic importance maybe given priority in competition for funds, but research excellence and importance to health continues to be the primary considerations in funding decisions. The MRC always welcomes high quality applications for support into any aspect of human health and these are judged in open competition with other demands on funding.
“Chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) continues to be a strategic priority area for funding and the MRC remains committed to supporting scientific research into all aspects of CFS/ME including evaluations of treatments and studies into the biological basis of the condition.
“The MRC recently held a CFS/ME research workshop where the recent findings on xenotropic murine leukaemia virus-related virus (XMRV) were among the items discussed. A note of the discussions will be published on the MRC website in due course.
“The MRC's National Institute for Medical Research is leading a programme on infection and replication of retroviruses (including XMRV). One study within the programme is looking at how XMRV reproduces in the cell, its interaction with host cell factors and how it subverts the host immune systems.”