Institution: University of Alberta
- Renee Taylor, PhD: University of Illinois-Chicago
- Ben Katz, MD: University of Illinois-Chicago
- Sol Efroni, PhD: National Center for Biotechnology Information and Weizmann Institute
Project Title: Molecular patterns of persistent immune activation in a post-infectious adolescent cohort
Objective: To use network analysis of gene expression and endocrine measures to identify biomarkers that describe the events from infectious mononucleosis (IM) to post-infection CFS.
Funding: Three new federal awards from the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense totaling more than $3.5 million
- A formal analysis of cytokine networks in chronic fatigue syndrome. Brain, Behavior and Immunity. 2010 Oct;24(7):1209–17. Link: http://1.usa.gov/tiyNsp
- Cytokine expression as a potential prognostic indicator in post-infectious fatigue. Cytokine. 2010; 52(1–2): SS11–7,81. Link: http://bit.ly/uAfBDS
- Plasma neuropeptide Y: a biomarker for symptom severity in CFS. Behavioral and Brain Functions. 2010 Dec 29;5:76. Link: http://bit.ly/fjCQRJ
- Using an agent-based model to analyze the communication network of the immune response. Theoretical Biology and Medical Modelling. 2011 January 19. Link: http://1.usa.gov/u8UspF
- A pilot study of immune network remodeling under challenge in Gulf War illness. Brain, Behavior and Immunity. 2011 Feb; 25(2): 302–13. Link: http://1.usa.gov/sMLFpf
- Cytokine expression profiles of immune imbalance in post-mononucleosis chronic fatigue. Journal of Translational Medicine. 2012, 10:191. Link: http://bit.ly/RUZ73T
This figure shows the differences between “communication networks” of immune proteins in healthy controls (left) and CFS patients (right).
Dr. Broderick: “So many things that it’s actually difficult to put into words. First and foremost, the Association has been and continues to be our essential portal to the patient population. The Association offers a clear rallying point around which researchers can congregate and begin to organize as a community. This is essential if we are to deploy a clear research strategy, one that avoids unnecessary duplication and maximizes the delivery of tangible results to the patient population and their families. Through the Association and its supporters, we are slowly becoming one much larger and much better coordinated virtual research laboratory, one with clear goals and where our roles and interactions as scientists, clinicians and educators are beginning to crystallize. This sense of community has been a vital motivator and has kept our group engaged and focused, enabling us to weather the criticism of more traditional academia and the comparatively barren funding landscape.
“All of this gives CFIDS Association funding a very special meaning. With every dollar being contributed by patients and their families, these projects represent a sacred trust if there ever were one. Looking back, the impact that these donations have had is nothing short of inspiring. They have changed the research landscape for CFS. Key preliminary findings were made possible as a direct result of the patients, their families and the governance of the Association. In turn, these findings have given us a solid scientific beachhead from which to apply for much larger grants. Indeed, results generated with association-directed patient donations have allowed us to leverage $125,000 in seed funding into three multi-year operating grants from the Department of Defense (DOD) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) totaling over $3.5 million. None of this would have been possible without preliminary research supported by patient donations administered under the stewardship of the Association.
“Also important is the role of this funding in training future clinicians in an area of practice sorely lacking in first-line care providers. Through its support of summer studentships in our laboratory, the Association has contributed to the research training of five undergraduate medical students and two post-doctoral research staff in the endocrine and immune abnormalities associated with CFS. The medical students alone went on to publish three papers in well-respected scientific journals, with two more currently in preparation. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, these patient-funded seed projects are promoting important changes in government research policy, the inclusion of CFS as a research topic in the recent U.S. Department of Defense funding mechanisms (see page 10) being only one example.”