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Bhupesh Prusty

“HHV-6 Mediated Mitochondrial Modulation and Its Association to ME/CFS”
PI: Bhupesh Prusty, PhD
University of Wuerzberg

Bhupesh Prusty (PhD), a molecular virologist at the University of Wuerberg, designed his Ramsay project to explore the hypothesis that mitochondrial dysfunction in ME/CFS has a pathogenic connection. He focused on HHV-6 (a herpesvirus that has been implicated in chronic conditions) based on his previous findings of HHV-6 activation and changes to mitochondria. Dr. Prusty and his collaborators honed an experimental system to study early stages of viral reactivation. Their work also points to a mechanism that accounts for how, even with a low number of copies of the virus in the blood, HHV-6-infected cells might still impact energy production in adjacent or distant cells through factors secreted in the blood plasma of ME/CFS patients.

Major Ramsay goals fulfilled:

✓ Added to the cumulative, scientific knowledge. The study “HHV-6 encoded small non-coding RNAs define an intermediate and early stage in viral reactivation” was published in Genomic Medicine. Read it here

✓ Bringing new researchers into the field. The Ramsay awards enabled an expert virologist to apply his skill to the field of ME/CFS.

In addition to contributing to ME/CFS research literature through his Ramsay project, Dr. Prusty also co-wrote a review on chronic viral infection in ME/CFS in the October 2018 edition of Translational Medicine, on behalf of the European Consortium (EUROMENE) on ME/CFS. The review surveyed studies on the potential role of various viruses and molecular mechanisms, including altered immune cells, changes in mitochondria, and autoimmunity in the development of ME/CFS. Advances in understanding the behavior of various pathogens caused the review authors to cast doubts over the validity of several past findings. However, the authors conclude there is evidence for a role of viral infection in at least a subgroup of ME/CFS patients. They recommend future strategies to improve studies through subtyping the patient population, standardization, the use of disease controls, and longitudinal data collection.

Read the research team’s study abstract here
Read an interview with Dr. Prusty here