Recent Autoimmune Therapy Study from Ramsay 2016 & 2017 Grantee Carmen ScheibenbogenApril 25, 2018

Dr. Carmen Scheibenbogen (pictured center) reviewing data with Dr. Franziska Sotzny (upper left), a postdoctoral student and other collaborators at Charité –Universitätsmedizin Berlin

Immune dysregulation has been regularly described in studies of ME/CFS, and there is substantial evidence for at least a subset of patients with an autoimmune cause of the disease. Dr. Carmen Scheibenbogen, a researcher at Charité—Universitätsmedizin Berlin in Germany and the recipient of two SMCI Ramsay Awards, has emerged as a major player in pursuit of this hypothesis.

The most recent in a series of papers from Dr. Scheibenbogen’s research group at Charité, examining a potential autoimmune treatment in ME/CFS, was published in PLoS ONE in March 2018. They used a blood purification technique called immunoadsorption (IA) that allows for the removal of pathogenic proteins from the blood in a way that is more selective than plasma exchange. ME/CFS patients were selected based on infection-triggered disease onset and elevated levels of ß2 antibodies for this proof of concept study.

A potential pathomechanism of ME/CFS, as proposed by Dr. Scheibenbogen and her co-authors in Sotzny et al, a review paper of the evidence for an autoimmune cause of ME/CFS.  Retrieved from

The group found evidence of reduced levels of specific autoantibodies in 9 of 10 ME/CFS patients who underwent IA. These same antibodies, against M acetylcholine and β adrenergic receptors, were identified as elevated in a subset of ME/CFS patients as compared to controls in a previous study by Dr. Scheibenbogen. There was also self-reported clinical improvement in 7 of 10 study participants following the IA treatment. This was a small-scale proof of concept study without a control arm, but it demonstrated the potential for therapeutic application.  A more extensive discussion of the study results and an overview of Dr. Scheibenbogen’s work were featured in a recent blog post from Simmaron Research .

Dr. Scheibenbogen has ongoing work to further define changes in ME/CFS immune system functioning in two Ramsay-funded projects. The 2016 study is focused on comparing autoimmune genetic and cellular traits in ME/CFS patients. The 2017 project is taking a look at metabolic and functional changes of specific immune cell types – T cells and monocytes.

You can read an interim update on Dr. Scheibenbogen’s 2016 study here. Preliminary results from Dr. Scheibenbogen’s 2016 study will be reported out as soon as they are available in an upcoming installment of Research 1st.

The Ramsay Award program is a foundation of the Solve ME/CFS Initiative’s (SMCI) commitment to explore all worthy research avenues. This program aims to move the field forward by funding innovative research across many disciplines, bring new researchers in the the myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) field, and provide seed dollars so that researchers can go on to obtain funds for larger studies in their areas of expertise. In 2017, we chose five scientifically diverse teams to fund. We are proud to have funded Dr. Carmen Scheibenbogen for both the 2016 and 2017 cycles of the Ramsay Awards.

SOURCE: Scheibenbogen C, Loebel M, Freitag H, Krueger A, Bauer S, Antelmann, et al. (2018). Immunoadsorption to remove ß2 adrenergic receptor antibodies in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome CFS/ME. PloS ONE 13(3): e0193672.