Identification of new classes of genetic susceptibility to ME

Principal investigator

Dr Alfredo Iacoangeli

PhD student

Luke Marney

Institution

King’s College London

Start date

October 2021

Funding

This project is jointly funded by ME Research UK and Action for M.E.

Background and aim

ME Research UK and Action for M.E. are delighted to announce joint funding for a PhD studentship at King’s College London. The new project, led by Dr Alfredo Iacoangeli, is focused on the genetic basis of ME/CFS.

The biological abnormalities leading to the development of ME/CFS are not well understood, but genetics are thought to play an important part. This new project will look at a specific type of genetic variation called an RIP (retrotransposon insertion polymorphism).

Retrotransposons are pieces of DNA often referred to as jumping genes because they can move around within the genome of a cell, potentially causing mutations (RIPs) that can change the function of that cell.

RIPs have been implicated in the development and progression of disorders such as motor neurone disease and Parkinson’s disease, and this project aims to use genetic-sequencing data from the UK Biobank to determine whether a specific RIP or set of RIPs is also involved in ME/CFS.

As well as contributing to a better understanding of ME/CFS, this research may help identify new directions for treating the disease.

Both charities are excited by the opportunity to work together, and to help support this important new research and a PhD student at the start of their career.