Researchers from Emory University School of Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are working together on a study they believe will lead to a better understanding of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).
According to William Reeves, MD, principal investigator of CDC's CFS Research Program, "CFS is a major public health problem that poses significant challenges for clinicians, patients and their families."
Symptoms of CFS include debilitating chronic mental and physical exhaustion, difficulty thinking, reasoning and remembering, unrefreshing sleep and various muscle and joint pains. It is often difficult to diagnose CFS because the symptoms can be related to many other illnesses.
"Statistics show that there are between one million and four million adult Americans who suffer from CFS including 2.5 percent of adults in Georgia," says Andrew Miller, MD, Timmie Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory. "Although scientists have made significant advances in defining CFS, diagnostic laboratory tests and effective treatments remain undefined."
The Emory-CDC study is designed to evaluate mechanisms of the illness with an emphasis on alterations in the regulation of hormones and the immune system as well as alterations in brain circuits involved in cognitive function and mental fatigue. The molecular and genetic underpinnings of these alterations will also be explored.
Each designated participant will spend three days at Emory University General Clinical Research Center (GCRC). Participants will undergo repeated blood draws and salivary sampling in addition to computerized testing and functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) of the brain. The study will be completed within a year.
The 90 participants who will be included in the study were identified through a population-based sampling of individuals with fatigue in the State of Georgia.
"We believe this groundbreaking research will lead us to a better understanding of the pathophysiology of CFS, both from a psychological and biological standpoint," says Miller. "It will open doors that could lead us to better ways to diagnose and treat CFS in the future."