Saturday, December 26, 2015

Ian Lipkin: Three to Five Years* to Solve Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

In a talk covering his virus hunting career, the threat of pathogens to humanity, and his work with chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), he dropped a bombshell: he stated that he believes it's possible to solve ME/CFS in three to five years. 
Called the top virus hunter in the world, Ian Lipkin runs the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia, and is the director of the Center for Research in Diagnostics and Discovery (CRDD) at the NIH. He also worked closely with Steven Soderbergh on his film Contagion.

Likpin cited the findings of their work to date.

  • The suspected pathogens don't appear to be the problem (the CII is reportedly looking further at herpesviruses.)
  • Evidence suggests altered microbiomes (gut flora) are present
  • Striking differences in immune expression between shorter and longer duration patients appear to be present
  • Preliminary evidence suggests that levels "X" and "Y" metabolites and, at least, one immune protein are significantly altered in ME/CFS. (Lipkin embargoed this information pending publication of the paper. One of them is highly unusual.)

Lipkin emphasized, though, that ME/CFS is not a one-size fits all disease. For instance, it's possible that fungi may be a problem for some patients. That's an intriguing idea given the recent fungi funding in Alzheimer's disease published in Nature.

Then Lipkin made his bold declaration "We're going to solve this in three to five years", with a big proviso. Provided the resources are made available, he believes science can crack ME/CFS fairly quickly.


Lipkin was at the event to support the Simmaron Research Institute's next spinal fluid study. The results of the first one – the most extensive spinal fluid study ever done in ME/CFS – were eye-opening. A comparison to multiple sclerosis (MS) found evidence of immune dysregulation almost equal to that found in MS. The difference was that instead of being raised, the cytokine levels were reduced in ME/CFS.

That finding surely left a big smile on Lipkin's and Hornig's faces.  Earlier they had found evidence of a profound reduction in immune functioning in the blood of later-duration ME/CFS patients. Now a similar reduction was found in their spinal fluid. Having findings in two different systems match has rarely happened in ME/CFS. That suggested they were uncovering system-wide problems.

No wonder Lipkin was eager to begin a new and larger spinal fluid study. It's part of achieving his bucket list.



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1 comment:


Why wait? Two Simple Steps to solve CFS & ME
1) Halt HIV Spending.
2) Fund Gulf War Syndrome.
Problem Solved.