At the inaugural conference of the UK CFS/ME Research Collaborative in September researchers in the field of chronic fatigue syndrome and myalgic encephalomyelitis got together with scientists from a range of other fields in an effort to spur on research into new areas. Here Professor Stephen Holgate, MRC Clinical Professor of Immunopharmacology at the Faculty of Medicine in Southampton, and Chair of the collaborative, explains why the conference was so significant, and what came out of it.
CFS/ME is a complex disease. In fact, it may not be just one disease at all. I say ‘may’ because there’s a lot we don’t know about CFS/ME ― and we desperately need research to get some answers.
It is a chronic condition characterised by severe fatigue, weak and painful muscles and/or joints, poor memory and concentration, and poor sleep. Not everyone will have the same symptoms, or the same severity of symptoms. We’re not certain what causes it, and although it often occurs after an infection or accident, it can also come on gradually.
So, we have a condition with no known cause, that manifests itself in different people in different ways and severities, and at different times. It’s obviously a field that is ripe for discovery. But so far, for a variety of reasons, we haven’t been able to get these answers. Read more