Reprinted with the kind permission of Cort Johnson and Health Rising.By Cort Johnson
The mantra at the Severely Ill study is to follow the evidence where it leads. We don’t know exactly what Davis has found or if will be ultimately validated. We do know that something eyebrow raising involving the mitochondria has shown up in the early stages of the Open Medicine Foundation’s End ME/CFS Severely Ill study. Something eyebrow raising enough for a mitochondrial expert to join the fold.
Davis has found abnormalities before but this is the first one, he told me, that has really leapt off the charts. It was orders of magnitude different from normal.
Whatever the finding is it has apparently lead to a mitochondrial expert, Robert Naviaux, MD, PhD being added to the Open Medicine Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Board.
We’ve had mitochondrial findings before but not from researchers of his ilk. Naviaux is not a doctor and sometime researcher. He’s a full-time mitochondrial researcher. His first paper on the subject occurred about 15 years ago. Since then he’s co-authored more than 80 studies on the mitochondria, genetics, metabolism and metabolomics.
He runs the Robert Naviaux Laboratory at UC San Diego, and is the founder and co-director of the Mitochondrial and Metabolic Disease Center at UCSD.. He’s also the co-founder and a former president of the Mitochondrial Medicine Society, and a founding associate editor of the journal Mitochondrion. This man is steeped in the mitochondria – but he also has an interesting immune side.
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Naviaux trained at the NIH in tumor immunology and natural killer cell biology, and at the Salk Institute in virology and gene therapy. With all that experience he seems perfectly placed to understand the role infection/inflammation may play on mitochondrial issues, should they continue to show up, in ME/CFS. In conversation Ron Davis has suggested that mitochondrial problems with the immune cells could conceivably be driving the immune dysfunction in ME/CFS.
A busy researcher in a hot field, his joining of the OMF Scientific Advisory board speaks volumes about the possible significance of Davis’s recent finding. Naviaux wouldn’t sign on if something very intriguing hadn’t sparked his interest. He told someone on the Phoenix Forums that he was excited about what he had found:
“I have only been working in the CFS world for a year, but we have already made several discoveries that have a chance to offer real hope for people who have suffered for so long. We have a paper in review at JAMA. If it is published, we will have a real start on seeing CFS in a new light, and having real tools for new ways to treat patients as individuals, and not just as a patient with CFS.”
The bar is being raised across the ME/CFS research field with researchers like Nath and his compatriots working on the intramural study and the End ME/CFS crowd with Ron Davis, Mark Davis, Naviaux, Ron Tompkins plus the two (or is it three now?) Nobel Laureates focused on ME/CFS.
With the Chronic Fatigue Initiative beginning it’s mitochondrial emphasis with Maureen Hanson and with Naviaux joining the OMF’s Board, mitochondrial issues in ME/CFS are finally attracting the kinds of researchers that will be listened to.
About the Author: Cort Johnson has had ME/CFS for over 30 years. The founder of Phoenix Rising and Health Rising, Cort has contributed hundreds of blogs on chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and their allied disorders over the past 10 years. Find more of Cort’s and other bloggers’ work at Health Rising.