by Tony Britton on June 28, 2013
A £1million grant has been awarded to the UK ME/CFS BioBank by the US
National Institutes of Health – for immunological and genetic studies over the
next three years that may lead to the discovery of disease biomarkers.
The ME Association are one of the charity co-funders of the Biobank.
Our medical adviser Dr Charles Shepherd commented today:
“This £1 million grant from the prestigious National Institutes of
Health in America is a major vote of international confidence in the ME Biobank
at the Royal Free Hospital – an important new research initiative that is being
co-funded by The ME Association Ramsay Research Fund.
“People with ME will be delighted to hear this news. They have already
helped to find the money to launch the Biobank and then provided the blood
samples that are being used to help find both diagnostic markers and clues to
the underlying cause of this devastating disease.”
PRESS RELEASE ISSUED BY THE LONDON SCHOOL OF HYGIENE AND TROPICAL
MEDICINE, 28 JUNE 2013
A pioneering biobank project aimed at the study of Myalgic
Encephalomyelitis (ME) / chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) has been awarded a
grant totalling £1,029,411 ($1,588,225) over three years by the US National
Institutes of Health (NIH).
A biobank is a large collection of biological samples including tissues
such as blood, which provides a valuable database for scientific research.
Patients with an illness, as well as healthy people (controls), volunteer their
tissues for inclusion, and each sample can be linked with detailed clinical
information about the donor.
The UK ME/CFS Biobank was launched in 2011. It is the only one in the
UK and the first in Europe aimed at the study of the illness. The project is
led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and is currently
funded by the ME Association, Action for ME, ME Research UK and a private
Samples for the ME/CFS Biobank are obtained via NHS primary care
networks and other sources, and are then processed and securely stored at the
University College London/Royal Free Hospital Biobank.
During phase one of the project, researchers successfully banked
samples from over 100 clinically assessed ME/CFS patients and controls, along
with key clinical information about the donors, which has been anonymised to
maintain patient confidentiality.
The three-year grant from the NIH will enable important research on the
immunology and genetics of ME/CFS, which may lead to the discovery of much
needed disease biomarkers. It will also help to expand the Biobank to store
samples from over 500 participants, including almost 300 patients and over 200
controls (comprising healthy controls and people with multiple sclerosis),
which will be made available to medical researchers internationally.
Dr Eliana Lacerda from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical
Medicine, one of the lead researchers on the project, said:
“At least one in every 500 adults in the UK is affected by ME/CFS at
any one time, as well as a smaller but significant proportion of children. The
NIH grant provides a huge boost to the Biobank, which will enable more research
into the causes of ME/CFS and ultimately help those affected.”
Erinna Bowman, one of the project researchers, said:
“A key component of our project is its longitudinal design, which
includes participant follow-ups over an extended period of time. This
longitudinal aspect makes the Biobank an even more valuable resource and
presents new opportunities for scientific discovery in the years to come.”
The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine is home to a
dedicated research group working on research into ME/CFS.