Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, ME/CFS

A million or more people in the United States suffer from myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), also known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), but remarkably little is known about the cause of the disease, and effective therapies are lacking. ME/CFS is characterized by debilitating fatigue that is not relieved by rest or due to any other medical condition, as well as a myriad of symptoms, including musculoskeletal pain, headaches, cognitive difficulties, and sleep disturbances. No simple scientifically validated tests for the illness exist, leading to great uncertainty among clinicians when evaluating patients. The absence of biomarkers for the disease and the lack of available research models for ME/CFS show how little research there has been to date.

One of three new ME/CFS research centers funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Cornell ME/CFS Collaborative Research Center (ME/CFS CRC) is a new component of the Center for Enervating NeuroImmune Disease. The Cornell ME/CFS CRC is leveraging the experience and varied backgrounds of researchers from Cornell in Ithaca, Weill Cornell Medicine, Ithaca College, and Boyce Thompson Institute, as well as key personnel from many other organizations, to address this research deficiency.

Recent studies implicate immune dysregulation and neuroinflammation in ME/CFS. Fatigue and other symptoms are also exacerbated following exertion by ME/CFS patients. Researchers at the center are collectively applying expertise in neuroimaging, metabolic pathways, protein identification and quantification, exercise physiology, immunology, gene expression, and computational analysis to interrogate the underlying biomedical mechanisms that contribute to ME/CFS. In each of three main projects, researchers are examining biomarkers from patients and controls both before and after symptom provocation through exercise.

Specific projects tackle oxidative stress in the brain and neuroinflammation; inflammatory molecules, metabolism, and the cargo of extracellular vesicles; and levels of gene dysregulation across the immune system. With this multifaceted approach, the team seeks to enhance knowledge of the disease for patients, health professionals, and the public. NIH Award Number: 1U54NS105541-01

Cornell Researchers

Funding Received

$9.4 Million spanning 5 years

Other Research Sponsored by National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke