“To move our chronic fatigue syndrome [ME/CFS] and fibromyalgia knowledge base ahead, we need the help of your readers,” writes Benjamin H Natelson, MD, director of the Pain & Fatigue Research Center at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York.
Dr. Natelson has been a world leader in research to better characterize ME/CFS and FM for many years, and recently published an overview of scientific findings to date which would support the belief that fibromyalgia and ME/CFS, though often overlapping, are separate illnesses.
But the work continues, and the Pain & Fatigue Research Center is now recruiting volunteers with a diagnosis of ME/CFS or fibromyalgia, and healthy volunteers, for several studies described at www.PainAndFatigue.com. Study participants' evaluations are free, and for individuals who can get to NYC, the Center will pay for local travel and a small stipend for the patient's time.
The general objectives of currently recruiting studies are as follows:
• NEW CFS study: How well is the current process for diagnosing CFS working across the US, and what might be a workable approach? “Patients will have a diagnostic evaluation, complete questionnaires, and answer questions about family history of illness and the effect of the illness on function, mood, and other abilities.” Patients can participate without changing their current treatment. No costs; stipend.
• NEW CFS study: Is a brain problem the cause of CFS for some patients? If CFS patients in this study have abnormalities on three dimensions – on tests of spinal fluid, neuropsychological cognitive function tests, and brain imaging – “that will mean that a brain problem is the cause of CFS for those patients.” And that will be a step toward developing new treatments. Inclusion criteria include either not currently taking any brain-active medicines, or willingness to come off these medicines with a doctor's guidance for a 2-week period. No costs; stipend.
• NEW CFS study: What is the role of oxidative stress in CFS – its possible impact on brain chemicals – and can the deficit be reversed, or symptoms improved with a food-based antioxidant supplement? This follows a series of studies suggesting that CFS may be caused in part by oxidative stress. Involves brain imaging and collection of urine and blood samples. Free medical evaluation and modest stipend.
• ONGOING Fibromyalgia study: Could the drug milnacipran improve brain fog in those fibromyalgia patients who are found to have an abnormality in brain chemistry? Dr. Natelson’s team recently found evidence of this abnormality in the brain chemistry of some CFS and FM patients. “Subjects in this study will come in to the center for a free medical evaluation to determine if they have FM. They will then fill out some questionnaires, do a 20-minute test for brain fog and undergo brain MR imaging. Afterwards, subjects will either receive Milnacipran or a placebo (inactive substance) for 8 weeks. Having some patients take placebo lets the researchers figure out the role of the drug. At the end, testing will be repeated to learn the effects of the drug on improving FM.”
For more detail on these studies & links to the preliminary Health Screen Form for potential participants, go to www.PainAndFatigue.com/new_research_studies.html. The form may be completed online and emailed, or printed & mailed or faxed to the Pain & Fatigue Study Center.
Or for questions, call the Pain & Fatigue Study Center research staff at 212-844-6665.