Boost for Fibromyalgia research

It has been announced that The Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trust has granted £1,699,572 for a project entitled ‘Novel Diagnostic and Therapeutic Insights for Fibromyalgia’. Dr David Andersson of King’s College London will lead the research into an illness which affects over 2% of the UK population (80% of those affected being women), and which is characterised by widespread pain, fatigue and sleep disorders.

Akin to ME/CFS, fibromyalgia is associated with poor quality of life, the cause of the disease has remained unexplained, and there is currently no simple diagnostic test available.

The Award builds on a King’s College-led study, in collaboration with University of Liverpool and the Karolinska Institute, which showed that many of the symptoms in fibromyalgia are caused by antibodies increasing the activity of pain-sensing nerves. Therefore showing that fibromyalgia is a disease of the immune system, rather than the current orthodoxy that it originates in the brain.

The implications of this study are profound. Establishing that fibromyalgia is an autoimmune disorder will transform how we view the condition and should pave the way for more effective treatments for the millions of people affected. Our work has uncovered a whole new area of therapeutic options and should give real hope to fibromyalgia patients. Previous exploration of therapies has been hampered by our limited understanding of the illness. This should now change. Treatment for FMS is focussed on gentle aerobic exercises, as well as drug and psychological therapies designed to manage pain, although these have proven ineffective in most patients and have left behind an enormous unmet clinical need.

Dr David Andersson, King’s College London,
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