ME RESEARCH UK (MERUK).
MERUK is a national UK charity with the principal aim of commissioning and funding scientific investigation into the causes, consequences and treatment of ME. It carries out its mission to "Energise ME Research" principally by identifying potentially important projects, and producing high-quality professional reviews and reports.
Much of the existing research into ME has concentrated on psychological interventions designed to "manage" the illness. Recognising this has led to MERUK's belief that a programme of biomedical research is what is needed, and is what most patients and carers want to see. To achieve this, researchers with fresh, novel ideas have to be recruited and encouraged to undertake research in this field. It is at this leading edge that MERUK sees its role: to give help to biomedical scientists for novel research projects that would otherwise not be funded, and to support research groups to the stage where they can apply, on the basis of their previously published work, to major funding agencies for support.
Research findings to date
Cases of ME since the early-to-middle 1990s have tended to be diagnosed under the label "CFS" (meaning that these cases are almost certainly lumped together with patients suffering from other illnesses). Nevertheless, biomedical research on groups of ME/CFS patients has uncovered a number of interesting findings
The following is a list of MERUK-funded current and recently-completed studies, with a readable summary.
Enhanced sensitivity of the peripheral cholinergic vascular response in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome SUMMARY
Prolonged acetylcholine-induced vasodilatation in the peripheral microcirculation of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome SUMMARY
Peripheral cholinergic function in humans with chronic fatigue syndrome, Gulf War syndrome and with illness following organophosphate exposure SUMMARY
The specificity of the CDC-1994 criteria for chronic fatigue syndrome: comparison of health status in three groups of patients who fulfil the criteria SUMMARY
Increased neutrophil apoptosis in chronic fatigue syndrome SUMMARY
Plasma isoprostanes and other markers of oxidative stress in chronic fatigue syndrome SUMMARY
MERUK aims to produce a continually-updated wish-list of projects it would like to fund if the resources were available. Examples of projects from the current list include a study of oxidative stress, neutrophil apoptosis and blood vessel vasodilatation in children with ME/CFS; a study of post-exertional myalgia in ME/CFS and the possible involvement of free-radical-induced vasoconstriction involving F2-isoproatanes; and flow cytometric measurement of iNOS expression in plasma blood cells of people with the illness.
Full details on MERUK's work can be found at www.meresearch.org.uk .