UK government responds to petition by M.E. patients for more research

UK Government petitions graphicToday the UK government responded to a petition calling for more investment into M.E./CFS research. I’ve included a summary of the response, a run down of the current projects by the MRC to encourage more research, and links to research news.

Please note I have used the term “CFS/ME” below because this is used in the government’s response.

The petition, set up by a person with M.E., was signed by over 15,000 people, and has triggered a response from the goverment.The email from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to all those who signed the petition began:

“The Government supports research into CFS/ME through the MRC and the NIHR. High quality research applications are welcomed at any time.”

In the response, the government says it supports CFS/ME research via two departments:

The government welcomes applications for research, including studies to investigate the biological causes of the condition and to evaluate treatments, and says that this is a high priority area for the MRC but there have been very few research proposals submitted to them that are of high quality. The MRC has committed £1.65m to fund high-quality CFS/ME research.

As a result, the MRC has started a number of projects to encourage more research in this “important area” and to bring in new researchers into the field through collaboration with prominent researchers from other specialisms which could shed light on the causes and ways of treating the illness. The CFS/M.E. Research Collaborative (CMRC) is an example of these initiatives that are already underway.

The MRC’s CFS/ME highlight notice outlines the priorities identified by the research community, which I’ve summarised below:

  • Immune dysregulation: investigating further the immune system irregularities which have already been found in CFS/ME, including autoimmunity and allergies
  • Pain: looking at the neural pathways involved in headache, facial pain and muscle pain in CFS/ME
  • Improved sub-phenotyping and stratification: to establish the sub-groups within CFS/ME (there’s much more to this than just separating CFS from M.E. as there are clearly sub-groups within M.E. being seen in the latest research on this) and stratification refers to the different levels of M.E., such as severe M.E., and their risk factors

Through my voluntary work with Action for M.E. and CMRC, I’m aware that these initiatives are indeed underway, including many very promising and exciting research projects. Action for M.E. reports on these on Facebook, Twitter, their email newsletter and on their website. See below for links to find out more.

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