Story by Sarah Staples
The ME Association’s most successful ever Christmas appeal has closed for donations after raising more than £68,000.
Money raised by the Make ME Better campaign will fund scientists from the University of Oxford and Newcastle University to analyse blood samples and study their metabolomics – chemical clues left behind after changes take place in cells.
Finding these clues could lead to the development of a blood test to diagnose the illness, which would open the door to drug companies looking into pharmaceutical treatments.
“The response to the Make ME Better has been staggering,” says fundraising manager Helen Hyland.
“Through it, we can offer real, biomedical research into the illness – research that, we hope, will start to give us the answers everyone with ME, their family and friends wants.
“Our target was £50,000 and we smashed that within weeks. So to everyone who donated, thank you. This is a start which offers us hope.”
It can now be revealed that following the success of the appeal, Dr Karl Morten, who is leading the project, plans to apply for a further £30,000 through the ME Association’s Ramsay Research Fund to widen the remit of his research.
As well as the metabolomic study, he hopes to carry out work on a single cell screening test which shows promise in distinguishing ME/CFS patients and healthy controls and lastly a series of key pilot experiments in light of recent research and new data coming out of the future Oxford study.
DR MORTEN IS NOW FINE-TUNING HIS NEXT PROPOSAL
Dr Morten is now fine-tuning his initial proposal, which will go before the MEA’s board of trustees for approval. When work on the study begins, it is expected it will take between 12 and 18 months.
“By using what we learn through our own studies, we will be able to gauge which of the recent research – Fluge & Mella; Naviaux ; Yamano; Lawson and Ciriega – we should be following up and developing.
“Our initial project has escalated. The knowledge in this area has exploded in the last six months. At Oxford, we have been talking to colleagues in different departments and there is real interest into investigating this field.
“This is a fantastic start.”