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Help Advance Research for ME and FM in Canada!

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Editor's note: The Aviva Contest is run every year to help Canadian charities. In the past, supporters have been required to cast a daily vote, but this year the voting process has been simplified. You can now cast all 18 votes at once. Registration is simple. (You can register through Facebook with a single click.) Voting ends on October 28, so cast your votes today!

Cast your votes HERE.

Currently, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis(ME) & Fibromyalgia(FM) are affecting more than 800,000 Canadians. One of your friends or their loved ones may be suffering from these chronic & severely disabling illnesses. These illnesses can hit anyone. All races, men and women, rich and poor, adults and children can be afflicted. It is devastating when a child is forced to cope with such a disabling illness. Although they are virtually unknown to the general public, they are as disabling as MS and are more prevalent in Canada than breast cancer, MS & AIDS combined! Current researchers are underfunded, we can only see patients silently become invisible from their communities — our community. These illnesses are real; the people are real. They need help and hope NOW!

There are no definitive biomarkers or treatment protocols for ME or FM. Diagnosis can only be made by comparing patient symptoms with diagnostic criteria, then excluding other possible causes of those symptoms. Treatments are merely a means to manage the symptoms but there is no known prevention or cure. Lacking these basic fundamentals has an enormous impact on our current community and the thousands of people still struggling to be diagnosed. It typically takes years to obtain a proper diagnosis and it’s known that early intervention increases the chance of recovery. Minimal funds have been available and few researchers are trained in ME/FM resulting in very little biomedical research in Canada for these illnesses. Our Canadian patient community is asking for and are in need of biomedical research and solutions. We need your help so that we can conduct more research to help our friends! 

Action CIND will use some of the proceeds of this contest to launch its research program. The bulk of the funding will go toward leveraging the tremendous work of Dr Patrick McGowan at the University of Toronto.

Dr. McGowan has already conducted a pilot study looking for biological markers for ME using epigenetic techniques. The results, published in 2014, were encouraging, finding an epigenetic pattern for ME that is distinct from controls. The pattern included changes in certain biological pathways that correspond with commonly reported symptoms. An expanded ME study is already funded and underway. Dr McGowan has a track record of results in this area and has also been awarded funds from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. 

FM shares many of the same features as ME; yet the relationship between them is not well understood. Aviva's funding will allow us to leverage the ongoing research and conduct a study that looks for epigenetic markers for FM and to explore similarities and differences between ME and FM at the epigenetic level. Knowing a patient's epigenetic profile could help doctors diagnose these diseases and select the most appropriate treatment options. Knowing the epigenetic profiles of ME and FM will also allow researchers to tackle their underlying causes and to develop disease-specific treatments.

The findings of this study will be published in manner that will be open to the research, clinical and patient communities. It is expected to be completed within the contest time frames. It is also planned to use social media and a webinar to publicize the research with the goal of promoting education of the diseases among the general public & funding agencies.

Ideally, this project will also serve as a catalyst to help build on our relationship with government to obtain long term funding for other projects and to increase their awareness of the nearly one million Canadians in need of their support.

This research and education resulting from Aviva funding benefits not only Canadians but millions of people worldwide, today and in the years to come. The Aviva funds will permit us to make a significant contribution towards improving the lives of current and future ME and FM patients.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” ~ Helen Keller

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