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Test Can Spot Whether You Have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Stanford And UC Scientists Say

Tuesday 30 April 2019


From US newspaper The Modesto Bee:


Blood test

Test can spot whether you have chronic fatigue syndrome, Stanford and UC scientists say

By Cathie Anderson
April 29, 2019
© 2019 The Modesto Bee.

Researchers at Stanford University and UC Irvine appear close to giving people with chronic fatigue syndrome something they have wanted for decades: a biological test that diagnoses their disease, according to a research paper published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Those who suffer from the illness have long faced skepticism not only from friends and family but even from the medical community because there is no diagnostic test that can flag the illness formally known as myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome.

Typically when individuals with chronic fatigue syndrome seek help from a doctor, they undergo a series of tests that check blood counts, immune cell counts and organ function counts. The diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome comes because everything else has been ruled out.

Now, scientists at the University of California, Irvine, and Stanford University say they have found a way to diagnose it: They took blood from patients, suspended a few blood cells in each patient’s own plasma, and then put those samples under stress. As they did so, they measured the electrical response of each patient’s blood cells, suspended in plasma. And, by studying electrical wave patterns from the cells, they were able to correctly differentiate patients who had chronic fatigue syndrome from those who were healthy.

Ron Davis, a professor of biochemistry and of genetics at Stanford, worked on the research. He said: “We don’t know exactly why the cells and plasma are acting this way, or even what they’re doing. But there is scientific evidence that this disease is not a fabrication of a patient’s mind. We clearly see a difference in the way healthy and chronic fatigue syndrome immune cells process stress.”

The Stanford-UCI research was funded by the Open Medical Foundation, a group founded by Linda Tannenbaum in 2012, six years after she learned her teenage daughter had chronic fatigue syndrome. Tannenbaum, a clinical lab scientist, aggressively pursued a diagnosis for her daughter, taking her to 20 doctors over a five-month period before finally hearing the words “chronic fatigue syndrome.”


Linda Tannenbaum, founder and CEO/president of Open Medicine Foundation, discusses the prevalence and research of chronic fatigue syndrome. (By Open Medicine Foundation)


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