Driving research of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME / CFS),
Post Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS), Fibromyalgia and Post COVID .

In May 2016, Open Medicine Foundation launched an Expanded ME / CFS Metabolomics and Genetics Study led by Dr. Robert Naviaux (a member of our Scientific Advisory Board at UC San Diego), and Dr. Ron Davis (director of OMF’s Scientific Advisory Board), in collaboration with Dr. Eric Gordon, Dr. Paul Cheney, and the Stanford Genome Technology Center. The purpose of this study is to validate earlier findings of a possible diagnostic signature for ME / CFS by measuring metabolites and to evaluate the contribution of genetics to the variation in observed metabolic signatures in this disease.

Dr. Naviaux completed an initial study of 90 participants (both healthy controls and patients) that showed abnormal metabolites in patients. The abnormalities suggest the mitochondria is in  hypometabolism due to a chronic cell danger response state in ME / CFS patients.

Read the following for more details about metabolomics from Robert K. Naviaux, MD, PhD.

Metabolomics and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome—Testing an Exciting New Technology for Diagnosis and Management for ME / CFS and other illnesses

The OMF and the North American ME / CFS Metabolomics Study

RobertKNaviauxMitochondria – “Mitochondria” is not quite a household word, but when it comes to understanding complex chronic disease, it should be. Mitochondria are the hub of the wheel of metabolism.

More than 90% of the pathways that break down food into building blocks and 70% of the pathways that make new building blocks have at least one reaction that passes through mitochondria. These little bioreactors use the oxygen we breathe to turn food and drink into energy and to perform over 500 other important chemical reactions in the cell.

Mitochondria also have another key function: They stand guard over the cell, ready to defend it when things go wrong. When a virus attacks, or a toxin is detected, mitochondria stop what they were doing, change their shape and cellular locations, and take up arms to help defend the cell. Mitochondria then send messages in the form of metabolites to the nucleus of the cell and to neighboring cells to signal the danger so gene expression can be changed and neighboring cells can prepare for battle. Different signals are sent when the danger has passed to alert the cell that healing can proceed.

“Metabolomics is a new lens that allows us to ‘see’ this inner world of the cell in a new way that lends itself to scientific discovery. This new vision is leading to breakthroughs in our understanding of why patients with ME / CFS get stuck in a cycle of pain and suffering and disability.” – Dr. Robert Naviaux

Recent scientific discoveries in our lab have shown that several different chronic complex diseases can result when this “cell danger response” (CDR) gets stuck in the “on” position for too long. When the CDR gets stuck, normal healing can’t proceed.  If this happens, it could theoretically lead to Myalgic Encephalomyelitis / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME / CFS).

Metabolomics – Metabolomics is one of the hottest rising stars in the high tech race to gain a molecular understanding of health and disease. Metabolomics uses a machine called a “mass spectrometer” to measure hundreds of chemicals in our blood.

In our lab, at the University of California San Diego, with a single blood specimen, we can measure over 500 of these chemicals from over 60 different biochemical pathways.

These chemicals are the building blocks that cells use to grow and function, to fight and to heal. Like a Hubble telescope for medicine, metabolomics is allowing us to see deeper and with greater clarity into the universe of the cell than has ever been possible before. In a drop of blood, we can “eavesdrop” on the collective conversations of all the cells in the body.

In ME / CFS, as in many complex chronic diseases, many genes interact with many environmental factors encountered at times of vulnerability. Complex diseases are not predestined by our genes alone. Complex diseases are ecogenetic—resulting from the interaction of genes inherited from our ancestors and environmental factors we encounter in a lifetime. Our metabolism is the real-time readout of the gene-environment interaction. Metabolomics is a new lens that allows us to “see” this inner world of the cell in a new way that lends itself to scientific discovery.

This new vision is leading to breakthroughs in our understanding of why patients with ME / CFS get stuck in a cycle of pain and suffering and disability. But more importantly, metabolomics is also shedding light on how rational therapies designed to trigger a return to health might be just around the corner.

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Myalgic Encephalomyelitis / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME / CFS) Post Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS), Fibromyalgia Leading Research. Delivering Hope.Open Medicine Foundation®


Averting a second pandemic:

Open Medicine Foundation leads groundbreaking international study of

Long COVID’s conversion to ME/CFS

AGOURA HILLS, CALIF.  — Open Medicine Foundation (OMF) is leading a large-scale international collaborative study investigating the potential conversion of Post-Acute Sequelae SARS-CoV-2 infection — more commonly known as Long COVID or Post-COVID Syndrome —  to Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), a chronic, life-altering disease with no known cause, diagnostic test or FDA approved treatments available.

Up to 2.5 million people in the U.S. alone suffer from ME/CFS; the COVID-19 pandemic could at least double that number. An estimated 35 percent of Americans who had COVID-19 have failed to fully recover several months after infection, prompting many to call it “a potential second pandemic.”

OMF recognized a familiar health crisis emerging, one with eerie similarities to ME/CFS. This crisis presented a unique opportunity to understand how a viral infection — in this case COVID-19 — may develop into ME/CFS in some patients. The goal is to find targeted treatments for ME/CFS patients and ultimately prevent its onset in people infected with SARS-CoV-2 or other infections.

The federal government is only now investing in Post-COVID research, with no focus on its connection to ME/CFS. OMF has already engaged researchers for the largest-scale study of its kind, solely supported by private donors who have contributed over one million dollars to date. When fully funded, the five million dollar, three-year study will be conducted across the globe at OMF funded Collaborative Research Centers, led by some of the world’s top researchers and ME/CFS experts.


In a significant percentage of patients, infections preceded their development of ME/CFS.  For example, according to the CDC about one in ten infected with Epstein-Barr virus, Ross River virus, or Coxiella burnetti develop symptoms that meet the criteria for ME/CFS.


The ability to follow the development of ME/CFS from a known viral infection is unprecedented to date and crucial to researchers’ understanding of the disease. The focus of this study is to find the biological differences between persons returning to good health after COVID-19 and persons who remained ill more than six months after infection and developed ME/CFS.  Understanding these alterations in key pathways can lead to groundbreaking discoveries including new biomarkers, drug targets, and prevention and treatment strategies.


About Open Medicine Foundation

Established in 2012, Open Medicine Foundation leads the largest, concerted worldwide nonprofit effort to diagnose, treat, and prevent ME/CFS and related chronic, complex diseases such as Post Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, and Post COVID. OMF adds urgency to the search for answers by driving transformational philanthropy into global research. We have raised over $28 Million from private donors and facilitated and funded the establishment of five prestigious ME/CFS Collaborative Research Centers around the world. To learn more, visit www.omf.ngo.


Heather Ah San

Development and Communications Manager