Current Studies

We take a closer look at the current research being conducted following MEA Ramsay Research Fund investment.

1. Dr Nicola Clague-Baker, Physiotherapy Lecturer University of Liverpool.

Dr Nicola Clague-Baker

In May 2020, the ME Association announced a new study that will examine the feasibility of measuring various physiological data during daily activity in people with M.E. at home.

The study is titled: “Feasibility of investigating oxygen consumption (VO2), Heart Rate, Blood Pressure, lactic acid levels and activity levels of people with ME during normal daily activities.”

The research will be led by Dr Nicola Clague-Baker, an Associate Professor of Physiotherapy and lecturer at the University of Leicester.

Dr Clague-Baker will carry out this feasibility study alongside colleagues from Physios 4 ME and with help from Dr Betsy Keller from Ithica College in New York.

“We are very pleased to be able to announce ME Association funding for the first M.E. research project to be carried out here in the UK that involves CPAT (an adapted form of cardio-pulmonary exercise testing) and other measures of activity, that will take place in patent’s homes.

“We have been working with Professor Clague-Baker and others from Leicester and Oxford Universities, who will be carrying out this new research, for some time.

“And, we are very confident that the research, which will record physiological measurements during everyday activities, will provide important new information on muscle, heart, and lung function in people with M.E.

“As many people will already know, Professor Mark VanNess and Dr Betsy Keller in America have been involved in CPET research for several years. However, their findings have largely been ignored or even dismissed by the UK medical profession.

“Their research has determined important physical abnormalities in people with M.E. that can be used to help to confirm a diagnosis.

“It has also confirmed a physiological basis to activity-induced fatigue and post-exertional malaise which has nothing to do with deconditioning, and that graded exercise therapy is not therefore an appropriate form of management in M.E.

“We are very grateful for input from Professor Mark VanNess during the preparation period and to Dr Betsy Keller for agreeing to be involved with the actual study.

“More details on patient recruitment will follow once the Covid-19 lockdown has been lifted.”

Dr Charles Shepherd, Hon. Medical Adviser, ME Association.

RRF Investment = £30,000

2. Dr Karl Morten et al., Universities of Oxford and Newcastle

Dr Karl Morten.

Scientists from the Universities of Oxford and Newcastle are spending 12 months analysing nearly 300 blood samples from the UK ME/CFS Biobank to look for small molecular clues known as metabolites. These are left behind after chemical reactions have taken place at a cellular level.

It is hoped that this research will identify patterns of metabolites that could help to form either a diagnostic test for ME/CFS or help to sub-group people that come under the ME/CFS umbrella.

The UK research will also try to replicate the findings from an important 2016 metabolomic study by Dr Robert Naviaux, which suggested that ME/CFS could be caused by the body going into a state of semi-hibernation.

Dr Morten is working alongside Professor James McCullagh, Associate Professor in Mass Spectrometry at the University of Oxford, and Professor Julia Newton, Dean for Clinical Medicine at Newcastle University.

Funding for this research came largely from the 2016 ME Association Christmas Appeal which raised £70,000. The remainder has come from the MEA Ramsay Research Fund.

RRF investment = £100,000

3. Dr Luis Nacul et al., LSHTM ME Biobank team and University College London

This research study will further examine both immune system dysfunction in ME/CFS and defects in the way that energy is being produced at a cellular level.

Members of the ME Biobank team in London.

The B- and T-cell main study will examine samples from 100 patients (50 moderate: 50 severe) and 100 controls (50 healthy: 50 MS) using flow cytometry.

The immune system component will build on some existing research findings relating to T and B cell status in ME/CFS and will be based at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).

The T cell work has been carried out at the LSHTM using samples from the UK ME/CFS Biobank. The results of this research are currently being prepared for publication. The LSHTM project team will be led by Dr Luis Nacul and Dr Jackie Cliff.

Fane Mensah, University College London (left) and Dr Chris Armstrong, University of Melbourne (right).

This new research will investigate how abnormalities in this part of the immune system are linked with evidence that is now emerging of a disturbance in the way that energy is being produced at a cellular level in ME/CFS.

The T and B cell research will be using blood samples from the ME/CFS Biobank – where we have biological samples and clinical data from 284 people with ME/CFS (including with severe ME/CFS), 60 people with multiple sclerosis and 135 healthy controls.

It will draw on the expertise not only of the CureME clinical research team but also of other experts in immunology at the LSHTM.

This research will also involve a small pilot collaboration with Dr Christopher Armstrong’s research team in Australia – who are looking at metabolic (chemical) changes in the blood that occur during energy production.

More information:

RRF investment = c.£50,000

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