The electronic version of our Spring 2015 “Breakthrough” magazine is now online

This issue contains coverage of ME Research UK’s newly funded projects on oxidative stress (University of Dundee) and reading difficulties (University of Leicester), and essays on gene SNP analysis, vitamin D studies, epigenetics, brain abnormalities and more.

Each issue now has a print-run of thousands, which go out free to patients and their families, clinics, academics and research groups. To have your name added to the mailing list for a free hard-copy copy, send us a message or email.

Contents

  • Our newly funded projects – studies on oxidative stress and reading difficulties
  • UK ME/CFS Biobank established – the biobank at the London School comes of age
  • Vitamin D and arterial stiffness – results of the University of Dundee’s vitamin D trial
  • Going for a SNIP – gene SNP analysis at the University of London
  • Epigenetics and immune dysfunction – a new report on epigenetic changes in ME/CFS patients
  • Brain abnormalities in ME/CFS – evidence of white matter and brain tract abnormalities
  • Research Collaborative Conference – our report of the CMRC conference in Bristol
  • Research bites – immunity and exercise, diagnosis in children, faecal transplants, gynaecological problems, IOM report, midbrain conduction, Canadian definition, and more
  • Fundraising by friends of ME Research UK – cup of tea, marathon run, barefoot scientist, Roamer visits Bonanza, Sue’s Graticast, and more

Editorial by Dr Neil Abbot, Research & Operations Director

When people ask what we do, we answer that ME Research UK exists to fund biomedical research projects – as simple as that. As the main independent funder of biomedical research in Europe, our major focus is to give grants to researchers, and we’ve already invested over £1 million on 38 distinct studies in the UK and overseas. The spur to all our efforts is the seriousness of the disease and the significant impairment and disability it causes, something highlighted in the new report from the Institute of Medicine in the USA.

However, we have other functions too. Research into ME/CFS is small-scale and funding difficult to obtain compared with other chronic illnesses, so researchers with fresh, novel ideas have to be recruited and encouraged to stay in the field. This is the most challenging task of all, not least because central government funding is difficult to access.

It is at this leading edge that ME Research UK sees its role: we suggest projects; give help to biomedical scientists for novel, seed-corn research projects that would otherwise not be funded; and support research groups in a variety of ways, including providing formal support letters for applications to larger agencies, such as the UK’s Medical Research Council. The strategy has worked well, and several university departments – Leicester, Newcastle, Dundee, Vrije Universiteit Brussel – have benefited from it in the past. As Prof. Julia Newton has said, her success in obtaining major funding shows what can be achieved by biomedical researchers working closely with charities, such as ME Research UK, in a collaborative way.

But, because ME/CFS is an ‘orphan illness’ in terms of clinical recognition, public perception and scientific research, we need to do more than just fund studies – we need to raise awareness. That is why we produce this magazine, Breakthrough, host a website with a wealth of information about ME/CFS, and have a Facebook page for our most up-to-date research news.

Funding research studies is an urgent challenge, but studies can only get off the ground with your support. Please help if you can.