Myalgic encephalopathy/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is characterized by abnormal fatigue and malaise after exertion. In addition to cognitive symptoms such as difficulties concentrating and memory problems, immune symptoms such as sore throat, tender lymph nodes and fever, sensitivity to a variety of sensory stimuli, pain from muscles and joints, new onset of headaches, sleep disturbances and a variety of symptoms from the autonomic nervous system. ME/CFS should be distinguished from more general fatigue conditions. It is estimated that between 10,000 to 20 000 are affected by the disease in Norway. The cause of ME/CFS is unknown, and there are no accepted standard treatment. Symptom management, energy conservation and adjusted activity levels are important measures. Patients with severe ME/CFS have a significantly reduced quality of life.
The research group was established 2012. It consists of a multidisciplinary team (infectious medicine, rheumatology, microbiology, psychology, and occupational therapy). Also there are two Ph D students. Biobank and thematic register are developed and data sampling started 2013. In- and out patients at the CFS/ME center are recruited as participants in the research projects. The research team has a multidisciplinary perspective examining biological as well as psychosocial factors and possible associations between them. The projects include studies on disease mechanisms, diagnosis, method testing, psychosocial factos, quality of life, coping with illness as well as illness course and effects of interventions. The CFS/ME research group has developed collaborations with both national and international researcher
and research groups.
The research group's activities:
- Develop and expand the thematic research biobank and register.
- Identify biomarkers of the disease and early diagnosis of ME /CFS by using immunological methods and genetics and proteomics methods, in addition to studies of molecular biomarkers for the different subgroups within the disease.
- In 2011, researchers at Haukeland University Hospital published a study of treatment with anti-CD20 antibody rituximab in ME/CFS. They showed that this monoclonal antibody that provides effective depletion of B cells led to significant improvement of ME symptoms in a large proportion of patients in the treatment group. We are now planning to participate in a national multicenter study in collaboration with researchers at Haukeland, where we shall use rituximab as induction and maintenance treatment of ME/CFS.
- Study the interaction between disease symptoms, psychological factors, coping, quality of life and disease progression over time.
- Develop and validate the classification tools based on international consensus criteria and the mapping instruments related to patients' mental health and psychosocial resources.
- Contribute to the development and evaluation of research-based interventions.
- Study ME/CFS and other fatigue states in the historical and cultural perspective.
- Examin the pathological response to physical activity that characterizes patients with ME/CFS in the measurement of physiological variables, markers of oxidative stress and immunological changes during and after repeated maximum working loads.
- Development / evaluation / measuring the effects of learning and mastering services for people with ME/CFS in primary health care.
- One hypothesis is that ME/CFS patients may have a subtle immune dysfunction. It is known that tetracyclines have immunomodulatory activities, independent of their antibiotic properties. In a pilot study, we plan to treat ME/CFS patients with tetracycline.