The Microbe Discovery Project makes a plea for donations.

It is a patient-led initiative supporting Dr. Ian Lipkin & Dr. Mady Hornig’s ME/CFS research at the Columbia University Center for Infection and Immunity, Mailman School of Public Health, New York.

“ME/CFS is a global problem that we need to address – it robs people of the most productive years of their lives, it causes immunological dysfunction, profound fatigue, cognitive dysfunction. It really destroys peoples’ lives. It is underappreciated, it is underfunded, and with your support we hope to find solutions to this crippling problem”. ~Dr. Ian Lipkin

Dr. Lipkin, Director of the Columbia University Center for Infection and Immunity and Dr. Hornig, Director of Translational Research and their team are actively engaged in state-of-the-art research into ME/CFS. They aim to provide insights into the disease that will lead to the development of diagnostic tests and eventual treatments.

They have already produced a landmark study that showed that the cytokine profile of ME/CFS patients is abnormal and changes markedly after three years, providing more robust evidence of the biological basis of ME/CFS. These findings made international headlines, also being reported in the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

These researchers are constantly building on their current program of work, are collaborative and known creative problem solvers: just look at their exceptional work in this article ‘Hunting down the cause of ME/CFS and & other challenging disorders’ by Simon McGrath. They are keen to start working on biomarker validation studies and develop an ME Center of Excellence! This team has strong ambitions and an equally strong ability to achieve these and have committed a significant percentage of their resources at CII into an ME/CFS program of research.

In fact, Dr. Lipkin recently stated that he believes that we can solve ME/CFS in 3 to 5 years provided the resources are made available, see Cort Johnson’s impressive article about Dr. Lipkin’s talk at a recent Simmaron Research event.

Current program of ME/CFS research

Analyisis and Testing

The researchers are working on figuring out one of the central problems in ME/CFS: “heterogeneity”. This basically means there are probably many different subgroups of patients, some of who are likely to have different diseases, all caught under the current ME/CFS umbrella. The team are working with 5 different ME/CFS specialist clinicians at different sites across the US, along with other US researchers. They hope that the foundation they develop for a Center of Excellence in ME will ultimately have a global component.

They are implementing cutting edge technology and science looking into pathogen discovery; immune signatures; gene expression and variants; antibodies to viruses, bacteria and fungi that lead to autoimmune type of responses as well as phage approaches for anti-pathogen antibodies.

Other high-tech approaches, some of which where developed by Dr. Lipkin and his lab include, MassTag PCR – High throughput sequencing, the new VircapSeq – VERT test, a 51 cytokine and chemokine immunoassay panel, metabolomics and proteomics.

They are investigating the oral pharyngeal (mouth and throat) and gut microbiome, spinal fluid and analysing gene expression. This is a phenomenal amount of work involving many people with carefully characterized cohorts from the ME/CFS expert clinicians that they collaborate with. The programme entails a huge amount of investigation and discovery. The research will help reveal the molecular detail of what might be going wrong for people with ME/CFS.


Pure Pathogen Discovery Projects:

National Institutes of Health/NIAID 150 cases, 150 controls: blinded multisite viral analysis (XMRV/pLMV) Samples still banked, able to be used.

With Dr Montoya, Stanford University 400 cases, 400 controls: pathogen discovery

Chronic Fatigue Initiative 200 cases, 200 controls: pathogen discovery, immune signatures, metabolomics, proteomics. Subset of  50/50 controls: microbiome, longitudinal immune analysis (12 – 18 months after 1st sampling )

Other Projects:

Cerebro spinal fluid study, with Dr Petersen 60 cases, 60 multiple sclerosis/no disease controls: pathogen discovery, immune signatures, proteomics and metabolomics. Cerebrospinal fluid bathes the brain, and these samples give a unique window on what’s happening in the brain.

Dr Peterson “unusual” cases 9 cases, 9 matched controls: pathogen discovery

Large Microbiome/Immunity Study:

National Institutes of Health/NINDS/Microbe Discovery Project (in progress) 125 cases, 125 matched controls: sample collection for microbiome and immunity, blood, stool and saliva at 4 time points; pathogen discovery analysis; foundation for establishment of Center of Excellence for ME. Collection has been funded through NINDS and donations as well as heavily subsidized by CII.

$5 million is needed for tests and analysis for this very large, extensive Microbiome/ Immunity study. How to donate

See the resources page for more background information and links.

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