As part of a major, multi-institutional, multidisciplinary assault against myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), a highly debilitating and poorly understood chronic disease, Jackson Laboratory (JAX) Professor Derya Unutmaz, M.D.
, has received a five-year grant totaling $10,553,732 from the National Institutes of Health
. This Center will be one of three ME/CFS Collaborative Research Centers (CRCs) that will be awarded, together with a Data Management and Coordinating Center (DMCC).
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 836,000 and 2.5 million Americans suffer from ME/CFS. Symptoms include profound fatigue, cognitive dysfunction, sleep abnormalities and pain, which may vary widely in severity.
An emerging theory is that ME/CFS involves perturbations of the components and interplay among a patient’s immune system, metabolism and microbiome (the collection of microorganisms that live in and on each of us).
“For a long time we knew very little about the biological basis of ME/CFS,” says Unutmaz. “Patients presented with a combination of cognitive and debilitating but general physical symptoms. Thus, it has been very difficult to diagnose and there is a great need to develop reliable biomarkers for diagnosis.”
Using systems biology approaches, he says, “We now have the opportunity to determine the biological correlations of this chronic disease that can pave the way for precise diagnosis and develop novel therapies to help patients.”