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Lab test in the works for chronic fatigue syndrome?

Earlier this year, we shared information about how medical researchers are better understanding the science behind chronic fatigue syndrome, also called CFS. In that post, we mentioned that the new name for the disease is myalgic encephalomyelitis or ME or ME/CFS. This name better describes the inflammation and muscle pain accompanying the condition.  

Scientists have announced that a new test for ME/CFS detects the presence of the disease at an accuracy rate of 84 percent. This could be very good news for people who must prove that their disabling conditions are caused by this disease in applications for long-term disability insurance benefits.

Insurance companies are notorious for discounting the subjective symptoms of CFS like pain and overwhelming fatigue  and often deny LTD claims because they demand objective proof of disability. As we said in our last post, slowly objective signs and symptoms are being discovered that are  indicative of CFS like high levels of cytonkines and certain infections, but until now, a lab test has not been available. 

Columbia University CFS research 

On July 11, 2018, Medical News Today published an article about the new test. Noting that over 1 million patients in the U.S. are estimated to have the disease, the article links to the scientific study published in the journal Science Reports. The researchers who developed the test are associated with the Center for Infection and Immunity, or CII, at Columbia University in New York City. 

Metabolite evidence 

The researchers compared blood samples from people with CFS with samples from healthy people, specifically  examining metabolites, which are small molecules produced through the body’s metabolic process. In CFS patients, the researchers found that some metabolites “were altered in a way that suggested that the patients’ mitochondria — which are the tiny organelles inside the cell responsible for turning nutrients into energy — were not functioning properly,” reports Medical News Today. 

These findings, combined with earlier research, form the basis of the new lab test. The article quotes the head researcher as saying that they are “getting close to the point where we’ll have lab tests that will allow us to say with a high level of certainty who has this disorder.” 

We will watch this development with interest as a lab test will be highly beneficial to many of our disability clients in providing objective medical evidence establishing the basis of their disabling  conditions.