ME patients use additional areas of brain when using memory – April

Findings mark lauch of UK research consortium to advance studies into ME and CFS

esthercrawleyThe UK CFS/ME Research Collaborative (UK CMRC) is a new initiative led by the country’s leading experts in the field to expand medical studies into this complex set of disorders by facilitating greater expertise and improved co-ordination of wide-ranging research activities. Researchers at the launch discussed some of the key issues they are facing and the areas that are making progress. They also explained some of their thoughts for future research and their latest preliminary findings.

Professor Stephen Holgate, Chair of the UK CMRC and MRC Professor of Immunopharmacology at the University of Southampton, said: “For the first time the research community and funders in the UK have joined forces in this unique new collaboration to create a step change in the amount and quality of research into chronic fatigue and ME. By coming together in this way, the application of state-of-the-art research methodology to this complex group of conditions will greatly increase the chance of identifying pathways linked to disease causation and novel therapeutic targets. The key to success will be the engagement of scientists outside the field.”

Dr Esther Crawley, Consultant Senior Lecturer and advisor to the Sussex & Kent ME/CFS Society said, “CFS and ME can leave many people either housebound or confined to their bed for months or years, causing their lives to change drastically and continued employment to become impossible. We need to join forces with charities and funders to ensure we can best address the needs of patients suffing from this often life-changing condition which affects one to two percent of adults and teenagers in Britain.”

Representatives from patient charities including the Sussex & Kent ME/CFS Society were present at the event, along with some of the UK’s major researcher funders such as the Medical Research Council (MRC), the NHS National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and the Welcome Trust.

Scientists studying the brain scans of ME/CFS patients have found they use additional brain regions to do simple memory tasks. This may explain the problems many sufferers have with memory and concentration. The findings were just one of several new studies presented on April 22nd at the London launch of a new UK-wide research body to advance understanding and treatment into this debilitating condition which affects over 13,000 people in Sussex and Kent.