British researchers have found abnormalities in the white blood cells of sufferers Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and if early results are confirmed by further research, and indications suggest they will be, it could lead not only to a blood test for the condition but possibly a drug to treat it.
Team leader Jonathan Kerr, says they have shown that a 'significant part of the pathogenesis resides in the white blood cells and in their activity'.
This will, he says, open the door to development of pharmacological interventions.
To sufferers of CFS, whose symptoms of acute fatigue, headaches, disrupted sleep patterns and an inability to think clearly, are often dismissed as being all in the mind, this is great news.
Kerr's team, found that a group of genes in the white blood cells of CFS sufferers were up to four times more active than those without the affliction, while one of these was less active.
According to Kerr, the involvement of such genes appears to explain the fact that patients lack energy and suffer from fatigue.
How widespread CFS is unclear, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says on its web site that it is estimated that as many as 500,000 people in the United States alone are suffering from a CFS-like condition.
The study is published in the current edition of New Scientist.