German guideline promotes interdisciplinary ME/CFS research

Aiming to gain a better understanding of the development and different manifestations of ME/CFS, Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has announced (google translate version) a ‘Guideline for the promotion of interdisciplinary collaborations to research the pathomechanisms of ME/CFS.’ It being hoped that the results of the research will lead to improved prevention, diagnosis and therapy for ME/CFS.

Very much centred on fostering collaborative research over a number of disciplines and encouraging partnerships across institutions, the initaitive invites applications which aim to answer particular research questions which may include –

  • What are the causes and pathomechanisms underlying ME/CFS? A particular focus is on identifying fundamental and, if necessary, overarching mechanisms that occur in connection with or as a result of various acute infections.
  • Which factors promote the occurrence of ME/CFS?
  • What starting points are there for preventing the disease?
  • Are there subgroups of post-infectious ME/CFS and can these be recognised and differentiated using reliable biomarkers?
  • What starting points are there to speed up diagnosis?
  • What are starting points for the development of new, effective and targeted treatment options and care offerings?

Although a range of research would be eligible, the BMBF will not consider research focused exclusively on modeling complex data, including ‘omics’ data; confirmatory preclinical studies; or interventional clinical trials under this guideline.

Open to state and state-recognised universities, non-university research institutions as well as commercial companies – co-operations with thematically related projects in European and non-European countries are possible – applicants must nevertheless show patient involvement in research. This could include patient participation in the research process, for example by supporting the generation of clinical data and bringing the patient’s perspective to this data; in informing patients about research developments in ME/CFS; and engagement in the dissemination of the results.

Moreover, researchers must take into account the diversity of the patient group (e.g. sex, gender, age, cultural background).

Project outlines to be submitted electronically in English by 11th December 2023 at Stage 1 of the application process.

Success in the initiative being achieved if –

(i) interdisciplinary collaborations between researchers from basic and clinical research are established, (ii) new scientific evidence is generated that benefits those affected in the medium term and (iii) that in the projects the data generated can be used sustainably and made available to other researchers.
The achievement of goals is measured by the quality and quantity of the collaborations established, the scientific publications and the data made available.

This guideline follows a number of linked initiatives this year in Germany – from the BMBF commissioned IQWiG report on ME/CFS to the deliberations of the Bundestag’s Health Committee.

On 12th September 2023 it was announced that

The BMBF wants to advance the diagnosis and treatment of the serious illness. Because so far little is known about how the disease develops in the body. So that new and targeted therapeutic approaches can be developed, the BMBF is funding research into the underlying disease mechanisms of ME/CFS with 15 million euros.

BMBF Heath Message
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