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What is the ​mitochondrial DNA variation study about?

Led by: Dr Joanna Elson

Aims: To discover whether people with M.E./CFS have different patterns of mitochondrial DNA variation that could affect a person’s chances of developing the illness or act as a barrier to recovery.

Dr Elson says: “Mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell, and mitochondrial DNA provides the codes for proteins that are essential for energy production. We want to see if patients with M.E./CFS have different patterns of mitochondrial DNA variation that could affect a person’s chance of succumbing to M.E./CFS or act as a barrier to recovery.”

Cost: £30,000. Action for M.E. is funding the project and would like to thank the ME Association for donating £5,000 toward it.

Length of study: 18 months

Study began: 2014

Background information: Announced during M.E. Awareness Week 2014 along with our immune responses study, this project was prioritised from a list of six potential projects following voting by Action for M.E. supporting members and our Research Panel. Read the final report from the study and its findings.

Findings: The research found differences in mtDNA population variation between those with M.E./CFS and healthy controls. The full report on this research describes the discovery "an important and exciting observation", but adds that the reason for it remains unexplained and that work is currently underway to look at other factors that might help explain the variation.