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A Brief Tour Through Some Common Topics in M.E. Science

Discussion in 'Phoenix Rising Articles' started by Phoenix Rising Team, Dec 12, 2013.

  1. Phoenix Rising Team

    Phoenix Rising Team

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    A concluding article for the 'In Brief...' Series, summing up the previous articles which attempted to explain the science behind fairly common topics and exploring how they relate to ME - by Andrew Gladman.


    Over the past few weeks and months I've been busily researching, evaluating and writing the series of articles under the subheading of 'In Brief...'. The original idea behind the articles came partly from frustration and partly from personal interest in the subject areas. From a personal standpoint I became sick just over a year ago and after roughly 6 months I landed a diagnosis of ME/CFS, forcing me to withdraw from university due to the plethora of symptoms I was and still am experiencing.

    As most people would do, I immediately took to the internet to research the condition; what causes it, what the treatments are and what I can do to help myself. What I was met with was a severely fractured literature, ranging from the psychological through to severe and irreversible neurological damage. As I continued my research it became clear that no one really had any idea so thousands of ideas were being thrown about with little evidence to let one rise above the others. It was for this reason I actually joined the forums here on Phoenix Rising, to discuss with other people and try to come to terms with what the condition was and what I could do to help it.

    It soon became clear that while there are many competing hypotheses, there at least exists a large bank of evidence supporting a physiological causation for the disease. After several months of participating on the forums I was lucky enough to be contacted by one of the administrators here at Phoenix Rising and offered the chance to share my thoughts and ideas through more formal articles. Naturally I jumped at the chance. While still far from an expert, I hoped to write articles that made the whole subject area easier to follow, in the hope that people in the same situation I found myself in can better understand the ongoing research into this disease and form their own opinions. Unfortunately we are not yet at a point where any leading causation for ME has been found, so conventional medicine provides little help. However, I personally found that understanding more about what could be happening at least gives a certain empowerment when all else has been stripped away.

    I have since learned that ME may perhaps not be my cause of disease, with several tests showing possible other lines of investigation for my own bad health including POTS, something I'm sure many ME sufferers are all too aware of. This has allowed me to take a step back and be more objective in my research of ME. Certainly I still plan to write further articles and follow the research while simultaneously following my own personal health. Perhaps in the future I may write an article exploring my own journey but unfortunately it is still unfolding. With regards to this series, I feel it apt to halt it for the time being; perhaps I may revisit the series, so be sure to recommend any topics you feel worthy of a focused article.

    I sincerely hope all readers have enjoyed this series as much as I have writing it. Below are links to all five articles so be sure to check out any you may have missed. The take away message from me is that while ME research in the past has been disparate and dejected, we now appear to finally be moving forwards at a rapid pace. I don't advocate false optimism but truly there are reasons to be excited within the world of ME.

    In Brief: Viruses and ME


    In the first article in the series, I felt it appropriate to concentrate on a topic that is both incredibly common through current and historic ME research and yet has been the centre of much controversy within the ME field. This article opens with an explanation of what viruses are in molecular terms, how they reproduce, and a brief exploration of two specific viral sub-types frequently discussed with regard to ME: retroviruses and enteroviruses. The article then explores some of the research relating to viruses and ME, including the controversial XMRV fiasco. It is apparent through the article that I am weary of the fractured findings with regard to viruses in ME, however it's clear that for a significant minority, infectious agents certainly appear to play a role within the disease pathology of ME.

    In Brief: Autoimmunity and ME


    The second article in the series was purposefully written to follow on from the topic of viruses. The reason behind this is that the downfall of the viral hypothesis has always been lack of evidence and consistent findings - autoimmunity could explain why such pitfalls exist. This article includes a brief overview of what autoimmunity is, with detail exploring how autoimmunity derives from a previously normally functioning immune response. The article then explores some of the research relating to autoimmunity and ME, including the Rituximab trials by Doctors Fluge and Mella in Norway. From a personal perspective, I believe this new line of research holds great promise and I hope that this opinion is supported by the content of this article.

    In Brief: Mitochondria and ME


    The third article in the series explored the role that mitochondria play in the disease pathology of ME. This article opens by exploring what mitochondria are, why they are important in aerobic respiration, a little on the molecular mechanisms through which they produce ATP and finally the existing research into mitochondria and ME including the work of Dr. Myhill and Dr. Snell. The evidence in this article clearly supports the conclusion that mitochondrial dysfunction plays a role within the pathology of ME, but I try to make it clear within this article that it unfortunately doesn't appear to be the central pillar of ME.

    In Brief: The Cardiovascular System and ME


    The fourth article in the series explored the function of the cardiovascular system, its makeup, and how this relates to the field of ME. This article opens with an exploration of what the cardiovascular system is, what blood is made up of, the function of the heart, and the structure and function of the blood vessels, with particular insight into the endothelial cells within them. The article then concludes by exploring the research into the cardiovascular system and the ME-relevant research stemming from this topic, including the work of Prof. Julia Newton at the University of Newcastle and also the work of Newton et al at the University of Dundee regarding findings of endothelial dysfunction within ME patients.

    In Brief: The Autonomic Nervous System and ME


    The fifth and final article in the 'in brief...' series explores the nervous system and how it relates to ME, with particular focus on the autonomic nervous system. This article opens by exploring what the nervous system is, its function, and the cells which make it up. The article then focuses upon how nervous impulses (action potentials) are transmitted by the cells, and finally explores how the nervous system is organised, helping people to better visualise the often difficult to grasp concept of the autonomic nervous system in relation to all others. The final section, as always, focuses upon research within this area and how it relates to ME, including recently proposed novel hypotheses, and furthers the discussion relating to the work of Prof. Julia Newton at the University of Newcastle.

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    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 12, 2013
    MeSci, rosie26, aimossy and 5 others like this.
  2. Lynne B

    Lynne B Senior Member

    sydney, australia
    Hi, Andrew, Thanks for all your work explaining basic physiology. I've only read the last one on the autonomic nervous system closely, and it's helped me understand what's going wrong with my small fibre neuropathy, burning and swollen feet and lower legs. I'll now read the others in detail. Good luck with following your own illness, whatever it turns out to be, and hope you find a cure.

    Regards, Lynne
    Legendrew likes this.
  3. rosie26

    rosie26 Senior Member

    Hi Andrew
    Enjoyed the series, I especially like your style of writing, you have a way of making things easier to understand.
    I studied Human Anatomy and Physiology for number of years over 20 years ago, but forgotten a lot of the processes of the various systems of the body - much to my frustration now.

    Hope all goes well for you with your health and you find answers. Hope to hear more from you when you are up to it.
    So pleased what is happening in research now, great to hear your thoughts there too. It will keep on getting better from now on I think - Thank God. :angel:
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2013
    aimossy likes this.
  4. August59

    August59 Daughters High School Graduation

    Upstate SC, USA
    This should be made into an article and filed in the library or compiled into a "sticky" of some sort that "The Team" has control over, but others members would be able to submit something that would logically fall in line with it, but the inclusion of a submittal will be a final decision by "The Team" and is not intended to be personal in any way.

    This would be very good for new members to be forwarded to when they register.

    You never know when a doctor or someone from the NIH or HHS should glance at our forum and this would be very good for them to be the first thing they see. Especially if studies are cited and if we could foot note this section as it grows.

    They might actually learn something!

    Good work by the team!!

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