Charlotte Stephens, Research Correspondent, ME Association.
The aim of the CFS/ME Research Collaborative (CMRC) is to promote the discovery of the biological mechanisms that underpin CFS/ME, which will drive the development of targeted treatments. The ME Association is an active board member of the CMRC.
- Background: The CFS/ME Research Collaborative
The 5th annual CMRC conference was held in Bristol on the 19th and 20th of September.
There was a very high turnout, which included researchers from the UK and overseas, health professionals, academics, students, people with ME/CFS and carers.
It was two days full of interesting talks, exciting new findings and a general sense of passion for biomedical research.
There was also lots of stimulating discussion and networking taking place among the professionals, as well as a chance for people with ME/CFS and carers to give feedback during workshops and to ask questions of the researchers.
Three recipients of ME Association student bursaries provide their impressions of the 2018 CMRC conference:
The resounding feel from this conference was a much greater sense of focus and direction. There seemed to be a tacit agreement among researchers that there exist multiple subgroups within the ME/CFS cohort, each with different pathologies, and a need for them to be identified and separated – in order to create more targeted diagnosis and treatments.
There was a wonderful metaphor used, referring to the subgroups as “different types of elephants” – ME/CFS being the elephant in the room – and that what works for one group will not necessarily work for another.
Another point that all speakers seemed to agree on is the lack of funding available for ME/CFS research. This situation has not enabled the large studies that are required to create reproducible results and make progress in the field.
However, Professor Moreau commented, things are looking more positive, with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in America seen to be setting the standard.
The Medical Research Council (MRC) – who contributed financially to the conference – still have the highlight notice in place for ME/CFS research. It tries to raise the profile of this condition in an attempt to attract more researchers to field.
Both the MRC and National Institute of Health Research (NIHR), are working with the CMRC on separate initiatives to also try and improve the biomedical research funding situation.
Videos of most of the presentations from the conference will be available on YouTube later in the week. However, the talks are quite lengthy and often filled with scientific jargon.
Some of the speakers declined to be filmed due to the presentation of unpublished data. There are also similar constraints in the presentations given by Professor Alain Moreau, Tiffany Lodge, Dr Neil Harrison, Dr Elisa Oltra, Dr Jackie Cliff and Cara Tomas, where significant new research findings have not yet been published.
This is because the scientific journals do not like to see this type of publicity before a paper has been accepted and published in the journal. Therefore, this report offers an approved summary of each talk, in the order in which they occurred.