Simon McGrath on some huge studies looking for pathogens or signs of infection in ME/CFS
FEBRUARY 27, 2013
by Simon McGrath
For me, the star attraction of Nancy Klimas’ recent CFS/GWI conference was always going to be Professor Mady Hornig and her talk.
Hornig might not be well known by ME/CFS patients – yet – but her boss is: Ian Lipkin, who so skillfully handled the XMRV ‘dediscovery’ study (which she worked on too). Despite disproving a link with XMRV, Professor Lipkin made clear his belief that ME/CFS was a serious disease that had not received the serious attention it deserved. Even more important – given his stellar record as a scientist – was his commitment to playing a serious role in trying to solve the illness. He’s asked Mady Hornig to lead their hunt for the cause of ME/CFS, so I was hoping for an update on how exactly they were going about the work and when results were likely.
As well as that, we had a presentation of science that made my eyes pop, as Mady Hornig took us through some of her incredible work in other illnesses where brain and immune system take centre stage too. If she brings these kind of approaches to ME/CFS then I think we will benefit enormously – more on this next week.
First, though, to the world’s largest ever ME/CFS biomedical study: the hunt by Hornig, Lipkin and colleagues for a virus or other pathogen that may cause our illness.
Huge initial studies look for pathogens or tell-tale signs of infection
Work has already started with around 400 patients plus controls, including 200 patients + controls from the CFI pathogen study (Professor Hornig is Principal Investigator for CFI’s Pathogen Discovery and Pathogenesis). If that’s not enough, they are hoping to get funding for up to a further 400 patients and controls. Assuming my maths are right, that makes a mind-boggling maximum of 1,600 subjects: 800 patients and 800 controls. This is a big step up for ME/CFS research.
The major part of the study is looking for pathogens
The two studies in the twice-failed NDA were done many years ago when Carter was younger. Now that Carter is elderly, the chances of seeing Carter conduct a human study that meets the FDA standards are vanishingly small