People who suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) have a genetic make up that affects the body's ability to adapt to change, according to a series of papers released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These papers, which analyze the most detailed and comprehensive clinical study on CFS to date, are published in the April issue of Pharmacogenomics.
Over the past year, CDC scientists have worked with experts in medicine, molecular biology, epidemiology, genomics, mathematics, engineering, and physics to analyze and interpret information gathered from 227 CFS patients. The information was gathered during a study in which volunteers spent two days in a hospital research ward. During this time, they underwent detailed clinical evaluations, measurement of sleep physiology, cognitive function, autonomic nervous system function, and extensive blood evaluations, including an assessment of the activity of 20,000 genes, in an attempt to identify factors that potentially cause or are related to CFS.
"This study demonstrates that the physiology of people with CFS is not able to adapt to the many challenges and stresses encountered throughout life, such as infection, injury and other adverse events during life," said Dr. William C Reeves, who heads CDC's CFS public health research program. "These findings are important because they will help to focus our research efforts to identify diagnostic tools and more effective treatments which ultimately could alleviate a lot of pain and suffering."
The multidisciplinary approach to this study, which has been termed C3 or the CFS Computational Challenge, was developed by the CDC's Dr. Suzanne Vernon, Molecular Epidemiology Team Leader for the CFS Research Laboratory. It is an approach that could lead to advances with other diseases and disorders. "We put together four teams of different experts and challenged them to develop ways to integrate and analyze a wide range of medical data so as to identify those things that could improve the diagnosis, treatment, or understanding of CFS," Dr. Vernon said. "There is a clear biologic basis for CFS, and knowing the molecular damage involved will help us devise effective therapeutic intervention and control strategies."
It's estimated that over one million people in the United States alone are sick with CFS. The condition takes a tremendous personal and social toll - approximately $9 billion a year to the nation and $20,000 per family. It occurs most frequently in women ages 40-60 and can be as disabling as multiple sclerosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
The CDC is the principal agency in the United States for protecting the health and safety of all Americans. CDC is promoting CFS awareness through a national media and education campaign set to kick off later this spring.
The April issue of Pharmacogenomics, published by Future Medicine, includes 14 research papers, the culmination of C3. The journal Pharmacogenomics is dedicated to the rapid publication of original research on basic pharmacogenomics research and its clinical applications. Published eight times a year, the journal covers the effects of genetic variablity on drug toxicity and efficacy, the characterization of genetic mutations relevant to drug action, and the identification of novel genomic targets for drug development.
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