Date: 28 februari 2011
Author: Jennifer Liu
Protein discovery validates chronic fatigue syndrome theory
The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
(UMDNJ) collaborated with the Pacific Northwest National
Laboratory (PNNL) to discover around 3,000 proteins in
the spinal fluids of people who suffer from chronic
fatigue syndrome and Lyme disease.
"We discovered that both diseases - chronic fatigue
syndrome and post-treatment neurological Lyme disease
- are central nervous system disorders," said Steven
Schutzer, professor of medicine at UMDNJ. "They have
their own characteristic set of spinal fluid proteins
that lets us distinguish one from the other."
The two diseases were thought to be similar, and many
people did not believe chronic fatigue syndrome had a
real biological or physical basis, Schutzer said.
"[The discovery] provides extremely convincing evidence,
in my view, that these pathologies are real and
distinguishable," said Richard Smith, director of the
Proteomics Research Program at PNNL.
Smith said this recent discovery is especially important
for chronic fatigue syndrome patients. "For a significant
amount of patients, this will be validation that this
isn't all in their imaginations," he said. Smith believes
the breakthrough in this study should be credited, at
least in part, to the newly available technology. "There
are a couple of challenges with spinal fluid that limit
what has been done previously," he said. "One is just the
small size of the samples that are typically available.
[Another is] the ability to make broad measurements that
detect and quantify many different proteins." The
technology used in this study was based on mass
spectrometry and high-resolution liquid chromatography
separations, Smith said. "We used state of the art
instruments called mass spectrometers ... to identify
and quantify the proteins in the certain given sample,"
said Tao Liu, PNNL senior research scientist. Applying
extensive separations reduced the complexity of the spinal
fluid sample and allowed for the identification of more
proteins in the sample, Liu said. "In the end we did
arrive at a total of roughly 2,500 proteins ... which is
really the most comprehensive analysis report to date on
chronic fatigue syndrome ... spinal fluid," he said.
With the publication of this study, the medical world
has a list of proteins to start making hypotheses as to
the cause of chronic fatigue syndrome, Smith said. This
study gives them the building blocks and tools to do it.
"Once you begin to look at the proteins and begin to
understand which proteins are involved... you focus your
attention on what you may actually be able to do in
prevention to alter the outcome," he said.
Almost all drugs are targeted at proteins, Smith said.
Once a person discovers a protein that is involved in
crucial biological pathways, there is potential in at
least targeting that protein in drug development. Smith
said this study shows that the new technology used enables
careful and in-depth study of proteins in spinal fluid
for more diseases than just chronic fatigue syndrome and
Lyme disease. "There appear to be two distinct disease
states when we look at the molecular level, and there
probably are many types of cancers and many different
disease states that we lump together because we don't
understand the differences," he said.
The recent research development points a way to show how
a lot of diseases and disease states will be studied in
the future, Smith said. "I think these kinds of
developments are going to lead to real revolutions in
medical practice," he said. " They will probably reveal
many disease states that we don't know about or
distinguish at the present time and that's vital to
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