On the Horizon: A Lab Test for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
Researchers from Stanford University in California are working to develop a diagnostic laboratory test for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and a first-ever treatment for the condition.
People with chronic fatigue syndrome—also called myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome, or ME/CFS—experience profound exhaustion not alleviated with sleep, flu-like symptoms, muscle pain, "brain fog," and other symptoms that typically worsen with even minor exertion. Chronic fatigue syndrome affects more than a million people in the United States and is difficult to diagnose.
In a recent study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers developed a new approach to search for biological markers for CFS focusing on a grading system rather than a positive/negative result. The study involved 192 ME/CFS patients and 392 healthy controls.
According to researchers, levels of 17 markers (called cytokines) varied dramatically between people with mild and severe symptoms of CFS, suggesting chronic inflammation plays a key role in the syndrome. Based on these findings, the researchers are developing a new test for CFS, as well as new treatment options, possibly including immune-modifying and anti-inflammatory therapies.