by Sasha Nimmo

UK’s National Health Service collaboration between university and hospitals will hopefully trial drugs for muscle abnormality in chronic fatigue syndrome (Fukuda criteria) patients. 

Initial findings revealed that CFS patients developed twenty times more acid in their muscles than those without the illness.

Patients in the United Kingdom’s north east could benefit from research put into action.

Professor Julia Newton, Clinical Professor of Ageing and Medicine at Newcastle University, who also works within Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals National Health Service (NHS) Foundation Trust, led a team who found an abnormality of a protein which could lead to the development of new drugs and treatments.

Researchers have found for the first time that patients with the condition have a defect in a molecule associated with the production of a protein known as AMP kinase (AMPK).

“Our study focused on whether there were any biochemical changes so that we can start to understand what happens in the muscle with fatigue,” Professor Newton said.  The study looked at 20 Fukuda-definition patients and 20 controls.

“What we have been able to identify is that production of AMPK is impaired in patients with CFS compared to those without. This is an important finding because there are drugs that are currently already available that we know will modify this abnormality. The next step is to carry out experiments to see whether or not we can reverse changes in AMPK with drugs that might ultimately form the basis of clinical trials…this is an exciting step towards that holy grail of trialling medicinal products,” Professor Newton said.

The new partnership brings together Newcastle Hospitals and Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trusts with Newcastle University, the newly-formed ‘Newcastle Academic Health Partners’  will deliver healthcare through collaborative scientific research, education and patient care.

“A real strength in the North East is that the University and hospital trusts work closely together, pulling on each other’s academic and clinical strengths so that we can be sure our work is of the very highest quality to help patients,” added Professor Newton.

Read more on the partnership.