Researchers from Columbia University and elsewhere have found evidence Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, officially known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME/CFS), is a biological illness.
The researchers used data from two studies comprised of a total of 298 ME/CFS patients and 348 healthy controls to find 51 immune biomarkers in blood plasma samples that identify biological patterns related to the illness. Symptoms for the illness include extreme fatigue and reoccurring headaches. Over two million Americans are said to suffer from it.
"We now have evidence confirming what millions of people with this disease already know, that ME/CFS isn't psychological," states lead author Mady Hornig, MD, director of translational research at the Center for Infection and Immunity and associate professor of Epidemiology at Columbia's Mailman School. "Our results should accelerate the process of establishing the diagnosis after individuals first fall ill as well as discovery of new treatment strategies focusing on these early blood markers."
The researchers believe existing antibody treatments could help lessen the effects of the illness. They found the illness often results from simple ailments like an infection that semi-permanently alter the immune system's ability to function properly. They believe the illness can be better treated if it is detected at an early stage, any time in the first three years.
"Early diagnosis may provide unique opportunities for treatment that likely differ from those that would be appropriate in later phases of the illness," said Hornig.
The research is published in the journal Science Advances.