31 May 2012

NEWS! Clinical Autoimmunity Working Group

Building a future for research into ME

To raise awareness of ME, and promote collaboration, innovation and foundations for a clearer strategy of biomedical research into ME, Invest in ME has joined with the Alison Hunter Memorial Foundation of Australia - in cooperation with Bond University and University of East Anglia - to establish a Clinical Autoimmunity Working Group which met in London on 30-31st May 2012.

The IiME proposal is based around using of existing and developed services and facilities to initiate an examination and research facility for ME - where proper diagnosis can be made and translational biomedical research can be established.


Medical and scientific experts from around the world convened in London on 30 and 31 May to discuss recent scientific developments in understanding myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS).

Co-Chair of the clinical autoimmunity working group for ME/CFS, public health physician Dr Don Staines stated ‘The recent discovery from researchers in Norway that an anti- CD20 B cell- depleting drug had a marked benefit in the treatment of ME/CFS has sent a clear message to scientists and medical practitioners around the world that this disease may have an autoimmune origin’.

While the clinicians who made the discovery, Dr Oystein Fluge and Dr Olav Mella and co-workers remain guarded in drawing unwarranted conclusions from the study published in PLoS late last year, further studies are now being planned in the hope of extending the study to a number of clinical sites and to increase the number of patients in the studies.

Dr Staines said ‘The findings of Drs Fluge and Mella and their co-workers are consistent with theories previously published that ME/CFS may be an autoimmune disease. Despite compelling evidence that this disease is linked epidemiologically to infection and the disorder possibly being a post-infection disturbance of the immune system, little funding has gone into studies of autoimmunity. This is clearly a multi-system illness which has been badly managed in terms of the research agenda.’

Experts who attended the meeting include Professor Noel Rose, Director of Autoimmune Disease Research at Johns Hopkins Hospital (USA), Professor Stephen Miller (USA), Dr Mario Delgado (Spain) and Professor Hugh Perry, the chairman of the UK Medical Research Council Neurosciences and Mental Health Board. Immunological discoveries which may serve to act as biomarkers for ME/CFS was presented by Dr Sonya Marshall-Gradisnik, Bond University, Australia.

Dr Amolak Bansal MD
Dr. James N Baraniuk MD
Dr Monica Carson PhD
Professor Simon Carding PhD
Dr Abhijit Chaudhuri MD PhD
Dr Mario Delgado PhD
Dr Øystein Fluge MD PhD
Dr Ian Gibson PhD
Dr Konstance Knox PhD
Dr Andreas Kogelnik MD PhD
Dr Richard Kwiatek MBBS FRACP
Professor Stephen D. Miller PhD
Dr Sonya Marshall-Gradisnik PhD
Professor Olav Mella MD PhD
Dame Bridget Ogilvie AC, DBE, FRS
Professor Hugh Perry PhD
Dr Daniel Peterson MD
Professor Noel Rose MD PhD
Dr Katherine Rowe MD MBBS FRACP MPH DipEd
Dr Rosamund Vallings MD
Professor Tom Wileman PhD
Alison Hunter Memorial Foundation chunter@ahmf.org +61 2 99586285

Invest in ME info@investinme.org 07759 349743

Click here for the full statement, media briefing, programme and updates on Invest in ME website.

Update: IiME Charity posted on Facebook:

"The Clinical Autoimmunity Working Group meeting would not have occurred without the vision and dedication of Chris Hunter and the Alison Hunter Memorial Foundation. This amazing woman has been instrumental in organising a raft of biomedical research opportunities and it has been a privilege to work with her and the AHMF"* ...  "Together we have been working for over 8 months to arrange this and we feel this will show great rewards in the future for pwme and their families. Professor Don Staines also especially needs to be thanked for working on this".

*  Alison Hunter's beautiful story - Forget ME Not - is in the Journal of IiME Volume 3 Issue 1 .

Update from IiMEC7
A compilation of documented immune system abnormalities in ME/CFS from 1983-2012 is included in an excelllent and comprehensive article in the Journal of IiME Volume 6 Issue 1 (June 2012 conference edition).  "The Immunological Basis of ME/CFS: what is already known?" - by Margaret Williams