Looking back at 2020

Despite the many disruptions to normal life in 2020, it was a busy year for ME Research UK. We were delighted to receive a record number of applications for research funding from dedicated scientists eager to understand more about ME/CFS, and ultimately how to help people with the disease.

Several of these applications are currently in our rigorous review process where – with the help of outside experts – our Science Committee assesses which projects they feel are most likely to benefit people with ME/CFS, and make best use of the money so generously given by our supporters.

Over the last year, ME Research UK has awarded funding to four new research projects.

Prof. Jo Nijs and Dr Lode Goderis in Belgium are investigating further the role of BDNF and HDACs in the central sensitisation and post-exertional malaise experienced by people with ME/CFS.

Meanwhile, Victoria Strassheim and Prof. Julia Newton in Newcastle have been exploring the personal experience of individuals with severe ME/CFS through a series of interviews, and in fact are hoping to publish their results soon.

We look forward to announcing the other two new projects later this month, so watch this space.

In addition, results from three recently completed projects have been published in the scientific literature over the last twelve months.

Dr Jelka Hartwig and Prof. Carmen Scheibenbogen in Germany have reported on the decreased activation of adrenergic receptors in ME/CFS patients, which may contribute to some of the autonomic symptoms of the disease.

Dr Lisa Goudman from Prof. Jo Nijs’s group in Belgium has looked at nociceptive inhibition in people with ME/CFS, finding evidence that this mechanism is impaired in the disease.

Finally, Dr Cara Tomas and the team at Newcastle University have published two papers investigating abnormalities in cellular bioenergetics in skeletal muscle cells – looking at differences between patient groups, and how energy is produced from different fuel sources.

Everyone at ME Research UK is looking forward to more great news this year, and we’ll be starting off with those two new project announcements later this month.

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