From ‘Public Servant', 14 September 2011
The state is to back biomedical research into myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) and chronic fatigue syndrome for the first time, and the advance will be supported by the country's first blood bank for ME research.
Previous research into ME has been limited by finance, a lack of impetus in the scientific community, and an historical bias as doctors were taught that ME was a psycho-social illness, says Dr Charles Shepherd, medical adviser to the ME Association.
The Medical Research Council (MRC) is evaluating the response to a call for new research proposals that will attract £1.5m of funding. Support from the ME Association, ME Action and ME Research UK to set up the blood bank with a detailed clinical history of ME sufferers will ease future research.
“The MRC has been biased against putting money or effort into biomedical research into ME in the past,” Dr Shepherd told Public Servant.
“The first attack on their approach came in the Chief Medical Officer's report of 2002 and we asked for a new strategy. Nothing much happened until Professor Stephen Holgate set up an MRC expert group which produced a list of biomedical research priorities and now we have funding to take this forward.”