The ME Association is very pleased to announce that trustees have approved funding for an important new research study that will be investigating the role of what are called transcription factors in ME/CFS.
The research, which has been thoroughly peer reviewed over the past two months, will be carried out by Dr Abhijit Chaudhuri, Professor Peter Behan, Professor John Gow, Professor Chris Hillier, and Simone Hutchinson at Glasgow Caledonian University.
Dr Abhijit Chaudhuri and Professor Peter Behan are neurologists with an impressive clinical and research involvement in relation to ME/CFS. Professor John Gow has carried out extensive research into the virology of ME/CFS (enteroviral infection in particular) as well as the role of gene expression in ME/CFS: www.meassociation.org.uk/?p=642
Professor Chris Hillier, who is Professor of Physiology at GCU, is a leading expert in disease mechanisms at a cellular and molecular level in cardiovascular, metabolic and genetic disease, and brings fresh thinking in the area of biotechnology to the ME/CFS research agenda. Simone Hutchinson will be the research assistant on the project.
Transcription factors are complicated proteins that act at a cellular level. They are released in a cascade fashion following harmful stimuli such as infections, trauma, exposure to toxins and drugs and form a key part of the body's initial defensive response. They also help to regulate gene expression – in simple terms they assist in the process of ‘switching on' genes and the activities they control.
There is already some preliminary evidence suggesting that transcription factor abnormalities are involved in ME/CFS and that interventions aimed at reducing the levels of transcription factors could be of value in reducing key symptoms such as fatigue.
The role of the transcription factor nuclear factor (NF)-kB has recently been investigated in relation to XMRV infection – where activation leads to an increase in the production of XMRV. Journal of Virology abstract: http://jvi.asm.org/cgi/content/short/85/7/3179.
The research being funded by the MEA Ramsay Research Fund will be looking at transcription factors in blood samples obtained from four separate groups.
First are people with well characterised ME/CFS – Professor Behan will be doing the clinical assessments.
Second is a group of healthy controls.
Third are some of the people who were involved in Professor Gow's research into gene expression.
Fourth are blood samples that will be obtained from the CFIDS biobank facility in the United States – because the UK biobank has not yet been set up.
The study is expected to take a year to complete.
If a significant abnormality in transcription factors is confirmed in this study this could well lead onto further research which would look at therapeutic interventions aimed at reducing the activity.
Total RRF funding = approximately £42,000
More information on the work of the Ramsay Research Fund can be found on the MEA website: www.meassociation.org.uk/?page_id=1086