New Ramsay Grant Researchers Push the Envelope with Innovative ME/CFS & Long Covid studies

We’re excited to share the newest class of Ramsay Researchers! Since its launch, our Ramsay Research Grant Program has been successful in attracting new scientists to the fields of ME/CFS and Long Covid. Ramsay researchers have gone on to earn $8 million in follow-on funding, much of it from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). That’s a 8x return on our investment in preeminent scientists and researchers driving toward treatments.

This year, one study will explore an animal model of ME/CFS which, if successful, could expedite the discovery of ME/CFS disease mechanisms and treatments. Three others are clinical trials exploring new treatments in ME/CFS and Long Covid.

“The Ramsay Grants this year reflect an intentional focus on research that gets us closer to diagnostics and treatments for ME/CFS and Long Covid. I am thrilled that we are at a point where we can support trials that deploy therapeutic interventions and study if they can meaningfully reduce symptoms in people with ME/CFS,” says Solve M.E. CEO Oved Amitay. “I am also encouraged to see how ME/CFS can benefit from progress in Long Covid, as well as the potential to develop animal models, which can help translate basic research into drug development. We look forward to learning more about the progress of these exciting studies in the coming months.”



Deborah Duricka, PhD | Effect of Stellate Ganglion Block on ME/CFS Symptoms and Plasma Metabolites

Dr. Deborah Duricka’s study will follow up on the work of Dr. Luke Liu MD, who discovered that blocking the stellate ganglion with regional anesthesia reduced symptoms of Long Covid. They will apply these findings to investigate the effect of the stellate ganglion block on ME/CFS symptoms and physiology. Sympathetic signals routed through the stellate ganglion from the brainstem modulate cerebral blood flow, which is associated with the severity of brain fog and fatigue in ME/CFS and POTS. The block also reduces markers of inflammation and affects metabolic control. If the block is successful in reducing symptoms and biomarkers, this study could illuminate the physiology underlying ME/CFS and ultimately lead to a potentially effective treatment.

Avik Roy, PhD | Targeting Atg13 in an Animal Model for ME/CFS

Dr. Avik Roy and his team are developing an animal model to explore the molecular mechanism of ME/CFS. Dr. Roy will investigate how autophagy impairment contributes to the pathogenesis of ME/CFS. His group will study if the genetic ablation of early autophagy protein ATG13 gene might display post-exertional malaise (PEM) pathology in mice.

If the study is successful, it will help to establish the link between autophagy impairment and ME/CFS pathogenesis. The animal model could identify the molecular mechanism of ME/CFS, and also has potential as an important tool for drug discovery.

Katharine Seton, PhD |Immunosenescence, Premature Aging of the Immune System in ME/CFS and the Response to Fecal Microbe Transplantation

Premature immune aging could explain immune dysfunction in ME/CFS. Dr. Katharine Seton will use Ramsay funding to investigate the link between microbial dysbiosis and immune aging and NK cell senescence in ME/CFS. This clinical trial will assess the efficacy of fecal microbe transplantation (FMT) – the transfer of stool microbes from a person with healthy colon flora to another individual for therapeutic purposes — to determine whether FMT is able to restore immune function in ME/CFS patients and whether this affects symptoms. This is important both for understanding the role of the immune system in ME/CFS, and to understand a mechanism by which FMT could improve quality of life for people with ME/CFS.

Rob Wüst, PhD |Micro-clots, Skeletal Muscle Pain and Post-Exertional Malaise in Patients with Long Covid: from Pathophysiology to Treatment

Dr. Rob Wüst and his team will study the mechanism underlying the development of post-exertional malaise (PEM), and the relationship with the development of microclots to provide a deeper molecular understanding of skeletal muscle adaptations. The primary aim of this study is to unravel the origins of muscle pain, extreme muscle fatigue and PEM in patients with Long Covid. 

In its observations of PEM, the hallmark symptom of ME/CFS, this study may have direct implications to ME/CFS, including therapeutic options such as anticoagulants.

Dana Yelin, MD MPH |Enhanced External Counterpulsation (EECP), Non-invasive Approach to Treat Long Covid Fatigue

Dr. Dana Yelin and her team will study the effects of enhanced external counter-pulsation (EECP) on Long Covid patients suffering from fatigue and examine functional status, vascular markers and quality of life improvement following treatment. EECP is a non-invasive outpatient therapy that has been shown to improve functional status and quality of life in some groups of patients with impaired blood flow and other vascular problems.

This study builds on the use of EECP for cardiac conditions that require improved blood flow to the upper body. A similar mechanism has been documented in some people with ME/CFS. This study in Long Covid could provide additional proof of concept for ME/CFS as well.

Applications for our Solve M.E. Ramsay Grant Research Program receive a rigorous, double-blind peer review to ensure projects of the highest quality are selected. Applications receive two independent reviews and proposals are ranked numerically on a defined scale based on significance, innovation, approach, and overall impact. Thank you to our reviewers for their partnership in reviewing our 2022 Ramsay applications!

Solve M.E. is proud to fund studies that directly impact the lives of patients and caregivers who desperately need solutions. Innovative research is costly, and since 2016 our Ramsay research program generated more than $8 million in follow-up grants. But there are so many more promising studies that we could have supported if only we had the means.

With your support, we could underwrite more studies, and one of those scientists could make the breakthrough discovery that changes everything.

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Please consider supporting our Ramsay Research Grant program today.

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