La Trobe researchers have made a promising discovery that may help better diagnose chronic fatigue syndrome, and earlier.
Dr Daniel Missailidis and his team at La Trobe’s Molecular Cell Biology Lab have found unique blood indicators in individuals with chronic fatigue syndrome.
“Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome, is commonly characterised by persistent fatigue, cognitive problems, and sleep difficulties. It can cause significant impairment to a person’s functioning and quality of life,” says Dr Missailidis.
Currently, there is no established method of objectively diagnosing chronic fatigue syndrome.
“Only doctors who specialise in diagnosing chronic fatigue syndrome can reliably provide a diagnosis, and it’s based on exclusion of other diseases. There is also no known cure and current treatments are very limited, often focusing on symptom and lifestyle management,” adds Dr Missailidis.
“If we are to develop an efficient and accurate method of diagnosing this condition, like a blood test, and similarly develop effective treatments, we must know more about the root causes and underlying mechanisms,” Dr Missailidis explains. “This is where my research comes in, to fill these knowledge gaps and to enhance our understanding of this condition so that we can develop a potential blood test and, hopefully, better treatments.”
Findings from a study conducted by Dr Missailidis and his team showed that people with chronic fatigue syndrome are more likely to use amino acids and fats instead of sugars for energy when energy resources are low.
“These findings are the newest steps for us in identifying blood indicators for chronic fatigue syndrome. In a prior study, we also found unique deficiencies in the way particular blood cells make energy in those with chronic fatigue syndrome,” says Dr Missailidis.
“We are currently validating these promising findings in larger groups and comparing these blood indicators with different diseases to ensure they are unique to chronic fatigue syndrome and a reliable blood test can be developed.”
A reliable blood test, Dr Missailidis says, will not just provide a definitive diagnosis but will help to facilitate early intervention.
“If people can receive an early diagnosis, then people can receive treatment a lot sooner which will help to reduce disability and improve quality of life. We also hope the findings of our research can inform the development of more targeted treatments that go beyond just symptom management.”