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Understanding muscle dysfunction in M.E./CFS

In May 2012, Action for M.E. awarded £25,000* to Dr Phil Manning and Prof Julia Newton at Newcastle University for their study, Understanding muscle dysfunction in M.E./CFS: developing a drug pre-testing system.

The funding provided by Action for M.E. will be matched by Newcastle University’s Faculty of Medical Sciences to establish the Action for M.E. PhD Studentship. A top science graduate, Gina Rutherford, is being trained and employed to work on this study over three years.

People with M.E./CFS frequently describe a sense of muscle-energy depletion after exercise, often accompanied by muscle pain. Previous research has shown that, on exercise, almost 50% of patients over-deplete the energy within their muscle and switch into ‘anaerobic’ metabolism.

This study will use state-of-the-art techniques to grow muscle cells in the laboratory and measure metabolism of these cells. It will explore why muscle cells from M.E./ CFS patients have problems with muscle energetics and why they switch their pathway of energy generation. This will help us understand why this makes them fatigued and how we can improve this to reduce fatigue.

Development of this laboratory system will also provide an experimental system to allow us to test drugs potentially able to treat fatigue and alter metabolism in M.E./CFS.

*This funding was part of a £61,000 investment in research, announced during M.E. Awareness Week. The charity’s initial October 2011 call for proposals had announced that, thanks to a generous gift from an anonymous private donor, a research fund of £50,000 would be available. However, following independent scientific review, Action for M.E. decided to fund three projects at a total cost of more than £61,000, drawing on funds provided by our Supporting Membership for research purposes.

 

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