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may 2013- Research team (Australia) in bid to solve chronic fatigue riddle

A Gold Coast research team is making world-leading progress that could change the lives of people with chronic fatigue syndrome. Chief investigator Professor Sonya Marshall-Gradisnik believes they are on track to find scientific signals for the disease, which at present is diagnosed through a convoluted process of elimination. 'We have two objectives,' she says, 'to find the biological markers and identify where the condition originates.'

The research has already led to several clues about how the disease develops. Patients suffer varying degrees of symptoms, which can include profound fatigue, headaches, muscle and joint pain, disrupted and unrefreshing sleep and problems with their immune system. The most severely ill patients are bedridden. Diagnosis is notoriously difficult and the lack of scientific evidence of the disease has led to many patients being ridiculed. It was trivialised for years with the now-discredited term yuppie flu. 'Chronic fatigue syndrome affects around 250,000 Australians,' Queensland science director general Andrew Garner says.

Prof Marshall-Gradisnik, who is from Griffith University's School of Medical Sciences, is internationally recognised for having found a strong association between the condition and a 'dysregulated immune system', an immune system that is not functioning properly. She is delighted the university and the Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service have set up a world-leading National Centre for Neuroimmunology and Emerging Diseases, which facilitates efficient communication between researchers, doctors, nurses and and patients.

She says the close proximity of the centre to the hospital is the only model internationally where researchers have direct access to severely ill bedridden patients. 'Patients have been coming from all over Australia. The facility combines research and health care. We have successfully led the way internationally with our research. We are now developing a suite of potential biomarkers for early diagnosis of the syndrome, which is also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME).' The research will take another three years. 'The results are promising but
we need to be cautious,' she said. 'The vision is that if you can find a potential pathology, you can start working on effective medical interventions.'

(c) 2013 AAP

Voor de vertaling in het Nederlands: zie ME/cvs-vereniging Nederland