$3.3 million federal grant to fund JAX chronic fatigue syndrome research

Professor Derya Unutmaz, M.D., of The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine, will receive five years of funding — totaling $3,281,515 from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases — to find better ways to diagnose and treat myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), the debilitating and mysterious condition more generally known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 836,000 and 2.5 million Americans suffer from ME/CFS. Symptoms include profound fatigue, cognitive dysfunction, sleep abnormalities and pain.

Researchers have identified several potential environmental triggers and faulty immune system components associated with ME/CFS, but the immunological basis for the disease remains murky. Moreover, the symptoms and severity of ME/CFS vary widely among patients.

Unutmaz proposes to undertake a major study of ME/CFS patients, screening blood samples for potential immunological biomarkers of the disease, and using the results to develop better diagnostic tools and personalized treatments for the disease.