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Project update – characterising the electrical properties of white blood cells

In a project jointly funded by ME Research UK and the ME Association, Prof. Robert Dorey and colleagues at the University of Surrey and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine are currently investigating the electrical properties of blood from people with ME/CFS.

The day-to-day running of the project is being carried out by Dr Krista Clarke, and she and the team have made a good start, recently updating the funding charities on their progress.

Previous research from Prof. Ron Davis showed a difference between people with ME/CFS and control subjects in the electrical impedance of their white blood cells. This indicates an alteration in the resistance of the cells to an electric current, which (while the biological implications are not yet clear) could represent a diagnostic marker for the disease.

Using blood samples from the UK ME/CFS Biobank, Prof. Dorey and team are exploring this further using improved techniques in a larger cohort of patients, including those with mild/moderate and severe ME/CFS.

They have received more than 100 blood samples from the UK ME/CFS Biobank, and, so far, 42 of these have been analysed for their electrical properties. These include samples from those with mild/moderate and severe ME/CFS, patients with multiple sclerosis, and healthy control subjects.

Findings from these groups will ultimately be compared, with the aim of understanding more about the mechanisms involved, and potentially developing an electrical biomarker for ME/CFS.

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