by Sasha Nimmo

Neurological biomarkers in paediatric ME/CFS (Canadian Consensus Criteria)

ME Research UK is contributing nearly $100,000 (£46,000) to a study looking for neurological biomarkers in adolescents with ME/CFS.

Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, at The Royal Children’s Hospital in the University of Melbourne, Australia is conducting the study.

It will study 25 adolescents diagnosed using the Canadian Clinical Criteria adapted for paediatricians and 25 matched healthy controls.

Both groups will have baseline functional neuroimaging, followed by 90 minutes of structured effortful thinking and learning activities (similar to school work), then have another brain scan.

Neuroimaging techniques have rarely been applied to understanding the impact of ME/CFS on the function of the developing brain. Now Dr Sarah Knight and colleagues in Melbourne will examine how the brain and its underlying functioning responds to mental exertion in adolescents with ME/CFS, using a variety of neuroimaging techniques.

There is good evidence of difficulties with memory, concentration/attention, and information processing in adults with ME/CFS (read a review) but little known about young people, particularly the role of mental exertion in worsening these symptoms.

The study began earlier this year and is expected to be published in 12-24 months.

Research into children and adolescents is important. As around 9,000 people under the age of 16 in the UK have the diagnosis and many more around the world. (figures from ME Research UK)

“Illness in youngsters has a particular poignancy; the transformation of a bright, active child into one who is unable to go to school or play with friends is something that touches us all. The report to the Chief Medical Officer in 2002 put it very well – the illness represents a substantial problem and potentially threatens physical, emotional, and intellectual development of children and young people, disrupting education and social and family life at a particularly vulnerable time of life.” – ME Research UK

ME Research UK put out an international call for biomedical research applications last year, and this was one of the applications which came in from very reputable institutions.

“Although we have funded mainly in the UK previously, we have funded internationally also – namely in Canada, Belgium, Sweden and Australia. We fund on the basis of the merit of the research application and not national boundaries”, explained Dr Neil Abbot, Research & Operations Director, ME Research UK.

More on ME Research UK’s neurological biomarkers research.

Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, University of Melbourne, Australia

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