Major improvement in the diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is expected following the award of $4m in funding to one of Australia’s foremost authorities on the condition.
Professor Sonya Marshall-Gradisnik
Professors Sonya Marshall-Gradisnikand Don Stainesand Dr Samantha Johnstonfrom the National Centre For Neuroimmunology and Emerging Diseases (NCNED) at Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Griffith Universitywere awarded the fundingfrom the Stafford Fox Medical Research Foundation as part of a bid to accelerate the diagnosis of CFS and the discovery of appropriate treatments.
CFS, also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), is a highly debilitating disorder characterised by profound fatigue, muscle and joint pain, cerebral symptoms of impaired memory and concentration, impaired cardiovascular function, gut disorder and sensory dysfunction such as noise intolerance and balance disturbance.
Many cases can continue for months or years. It is believed around 200,000 Australians are affected. The prevalence rate of CFS/ME worldwide is estimated around 1.2 per cent.
“This grant is the largest amount ever awardedfor CFS research,” says Professor Staines. The funding from the Stafford Fox Medical Research Foundation will allow Griffith to develop and deliver the first-of-its-kind diagnostic blood test which uses novel technologies to identify genetic markers for CFS.
“Importantly we are now able to develop a laboratorytest which confirms the diagnosis in patients with a clinically compatible illness.
“The development of this test will not only provide legitimacy to patients’ illness, but will also mean that health professionals such as GPs and specialists can provide a faster diagnosis for each patient. This will reduce the burden on our healthcare system whichspends around $500m on inappropriatehealthcare for CFSeach year.”
“The diagnostic test will likely be available to the medical community within five years as we continue to study larger groups of CFS patients. Importantly this funding will also enable researchers at NCNED to investigate possible pharmacological treatments,” says Professor Marshall-Gradisnik.
“The Stafford Fox Medical Research Foundation grant will also enable NCNED researchersto further explore the proven receptor dysfunction in this condition using world-first technology.
“The funding will further enhance ourscientific research which demonstrates functional changes in certain cell receptors, which are associated with the pathology of CFS.”
The funding award is the second round of funding from the Stafford Fox Medical Research Foundationwhich previously provided $2.5m toNCNED to investigate CFS and develop the diagnostic test.
Senior Deputy Vice Chancellor and Pro Vice Chancellor of Research, Professor Ned Pankhurstsays this outstanding achievement by NCNED researchers at Griffith is a landmark contribution to CFS research worldwide.
“The concentration of research talent at NCNED has resulted in world-first scientific discoveries that underpin the pathology of this illness, enabling further advancements in delivering a diagnostic test and possible treatments in the near future.”
The NCNED team is presenting research at this week’s Gold Coast Health and Medical Research Conference 2016 (1-2 December 2016). The Conference has the theme of Translating research for the prevention of chronic disease.