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ME/CFS and related chronic complex diseases

An update on Bob Naviaux’s metabolomics validation study

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On this #OMFScienceWednesday, we have a promising update on the metabolomics validation study we are funding in Dr. Bob Naviaux’s lab at the University of California, San Diego. This study is designed to independently validate Dr. Naviaux’s groundbreaking findings of metabolic features of ME/CFS, published in 2016.

As some of you may remember, Dr. Naviaux’s initial study carried out metabolomics profiling on patients, to measure levels of hundreds of their serum metabolites, the small molecules involved in metabolism. This yielded a picture of widespread disruptions in ME/CFS metabolism compared to healthy controls – and most importantly, a metabolic ‘signature’ that appeared to distinguish patients from controls. This was excellent news given how badly the field needs a biomarker, which can help in developing the first real biological diagnostic for ME/CFS. But all potential biomarkers must be validated, so that’s why we funded this study.

The latest news is great news: 23 of 30 (77%) of the metabolic pathway abnormalities found in the first study were validated by this follow-up study, despite large differences in clinical practice and geography between the two patient cohorts. These results add support that this metabolic signature can distinguish ME/CFS patients from healthy controls. Dr. Naviaux believes this metabolic signature is telling us that ME/CFS results from the persistence of a ‘dauer’-like metabolic program, leading to an energy conservation state mediated by the cell danger response (CDR).

For more on Dr. Naviaux’s original findings, including his theory about dauer and CDR – and why Dr. Ron Davis thinks his work is so important in the search for a biomarker and a better understanding of ME/CFS, see: /2016/08/30/mecfs-ground-breaking-metabolomics-results-by-ronald-w-davis-phd/

For more of the latest from OMF, check out today’s newsletter: /2018/02/06/omf-newsletter-winter-2018/