Wednesday, March 9, 2016

CFS Test Ready for Commercialization

Note: The article below quotes Professor Don Staines as saying the
Griffith test is a 'screening test not a diagnostic test' and is based
on biomarkers [that] come from single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs),
so I have no idea what exactly the test consists of. It would be nice
if someone interviewed this group to see what the details are, since
other statements by this group include the following-

"This screening test may be expected to become a laboratory standard
to provide more certain, and cost-efficient, diagnosis for CFS.
Currently patients may be undergoing a range of tests to diagnose for
CFS which incurs a significant cost to the health care system," says

"This illness has traditionally been difficult to diagnose, meaning
that people can go for months without getting the care and attention
they require. We are confident that the new screening test currently
in development will provide efficient and increasingly accurate
screening for people with CFS. This test may also be used to monitor
and track the progression of their illness," says Professor Staines.

A screening test for chronic fatigue syndrome is ready for the public
9 MAR 2016

Screening test for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome on its way


Chronic Fatigue Test Ready For Commercialization
March 8, 2016 | by Stephen Luntz

Biomarkers have been identified that indicate Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
(CFS), and the team that discovered them are seeking partners for a
commercial test. Eventually, this may be a step towards finding a
cure, but shorter term benefits will be social, as people who have
faced disbelief become able to prove they are truly sick.

"CFS, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), affects up to
400,000 Australians," said Professor Sonya Marshall-Gradisnik of
Griffith University, Queensland, Australia, in a statement, "many of
whom are housebound or bedbound. Patients are isolated and further
stigmatized by disbelief of their condition."

The physical and mental symptoms of CFS are so variable and
non-specific that it is very hard to distinguish the condition from a
range of other diseases. Moreover, the severity varies widely. "The
perception in the community is that it is minor," Griffith's Professor
Don Staines told IFLScience. It is often difficult for sufferers to be
recognized as sick by doctors, let alone welfare systems or peers.

"Over the last four years... we have identified unique markers in CFS
patients," Marshall-Gradisnik added in the statement. These markers
affect the white blood cells that represent an important part of the
immune system. Marshall-Gradisnik and Staines hope their findings will
address the stigma of this condition, proving that people are
genuinely sick and deserve support.

Another potential application for the test is as a measure of whether
patients are improving or getting worse. This could greatly improve
studies of treatments that currently rely on frequently vague
self-assessments, but Staines told IFLScience that larger studies will
be required to confirm if this is possible with the test as is, or if
further refinement is required.

Meanwhile, the discovery of the biomarkers provides plenty of
potential for researchers seeking targets for such treatments,
although Staines told IFLScience that currently "we don't have funds
to pursue the treatment side. We've generated a range of ideas, but
not the funding."

Matching biomarkers to a disease whose diagnosis is so difficult "took
a lot of hard research" said Staines. The studies have been done
almost entirely on Australian CFS patients, since the blood has to be
analyzed within eight hours, and Staines said the result is a
"screening test not a diagnostic test" as wider studies may find other
forms of the disease.

Staines told IFLScience the biomarkers come from single nucleotide
polymorphisms (SNPs), small genetic variations, affecting transient
ion channel receptors. These SNPs predispose people to CFS. "In at
least 70 to 80 percent of cases people have an infectious disease such
as glandular fever which triggers a change in the expression of these
SNPs," Staines said. This induces both the symptoms – such as
exhaustion, loss of memory and joint pain – and the Griffith team's

The work has been published in a series of peer-reviewed papers,
including this year in the Scandinavian Journal of Immunology.

Asked how long it might take before a CFS test is available outside
small study groups Staines told IFLScience, "It's out of our hands. We
don't need more refinements, we need a partner."