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

Meet Rahim Esfandyarpour, PhD, member of the SGTC Team

On this #OMFScienceWednesday we introduce you to Stanford Genome Technology Center team member Rahim Esfandyarpour, PhD. Rahim ‘s ME / CFS research, funded by OMF, is focussed on the development of the nanoneedle as a biomarker for the disease.

Rahim Esfandyarpour, PhD, member of the SGTC Team

“I received my PhD and MSc. in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University;  currently I am an engineering research associate at the Stanford Genome Technology Center (SGTC). I have nearly a decade of experience in development of novel biomedical platforms for a variety of life science applications.

My interdisciplinary research focuses on translational science by applying innovative engineering concepts to address challenges in modern life science and medicine with the three main aims of prevention, early diagnosis, and effective treatments of the diseases. For instance, one of my recent inventions was a multi-functional ‘lab on a chip’ platform that costs about a penny, can be fabricated on an inkjet printer  (read PNAS here and Stanford here). 

I am currently managing an interdisciplinary team of scientists and engineers working on several different research projects that focus on developing novel, innovative, cost-effective, and precise technologies (e.g., portable, wearable and handheld bio devices) to advance the translation of biomedical research into advanced diagnostics and treatments.

This group is part of a technology development team with whom I collaborate, which includes immunologists, geneticists, biologists, chemists, oncologists, bioinformaticians, bioengineers, mechanical engineers, and electrical engineers. One of the powerful and novel technologies that I developed in the last few years was focused on addressing some of the major challenges associated with traditional biomarker detection methods. For example, many detection systems use complex optical methods requiring special fluorescent labels, while my methods use inexpensive electrical detection with no expensive labels.

Taking advantage of recent major advancements in nanotechnology, micro/nano fabrication, and microfluidics, I developed a versatile, ultra-sensitive, and high-throughput (thousands of sensors per square centimeter) impedance-based nano electronic array, called a nanoneedle biosensor, that is integrated with microfluidics technology and capable of performing real-time and label-free affinity-based bio-sensing of target biomarkers.

It was about two years ago that I learned more about ME / CFS and Whitney’s situation, and became actively involved in studying and understanding this complicated disease. I completely remember the discussions that Professor Davis and I had regarding how my nanoneedle assay might be a potential biomarker and drug-screening tool for ME / CFS. According to some studies, ME / CFS is a disease that affects at least two million people in USA and millions more globally. To the best of our knowledge, there is currently no well-established blood based biomarker to diagnose ME / CFS or to perform pre-clinical testing of candidate drugs and therapies for ME / CFS patients. As a result, diagnosing ME / CFS patients is a lengthy and costly process, which constitutes a fundamental impediment to patient care and treatments.

Since then I have spent many days and nights running experiments with the nanoneedle and studying the disease because I strongly believe there is always a way to find a solution if you try hard enough. Having that in mind and using our new technology, I spent months re-designing and micro-fabricating many more new sensors, and characterizing and calibrating them for this specific application. Then, for the first time, it was experimentally observed that ME / CFS blood cells display a characteristic impedance pattern when subjected to hyperosmotic stress that is significantly different to that of the healthy controls. The impedance pattern differences between ME / CFS and healthy blood in response to hyperosmotic stress suggest that the technology can potentially provide us with a unique indicator of ME / CFS. It’s very encouraging that the results thus far indicate that the technology can potentially establish a rapid and accurate diagnostic platform for ME / CFS while also providing insights into the biology of this complex disorder. Additionally, using this technology as a drug-screening tool, several small molecules have been tested to see how they can help ME / CFS cells to return to healthy cell behavior. These promising results suggest that the technology can potentially be used for rapidly screening candidate drugs and/or substances for ME / CFS.

Now, we are aiming to perform further experiments to understand the exact mechanisms contributing to the results and to test the performance of the assay on other diseases. Additionally, we are working on adapting the technology to a platform capable of pre-clinical testing of candidate drugs and therapies for ME / CFS patients, leading towards the development of a portable, handheld, and easy-to-use platform that can be operated by researchers and clinicians at any skill level.

Moreover, we plan to work on other technologies to study ME / CFS. For instance, my newly developed printing technology, a paper-thin nanoparticle circuit that costs about a penny to make on an inkjet printer, can not only increase tests’ throughputs but also dramatically decrease tests’ cost and may provide us with another powerful and low-cost diagnostic and drugs/substances screening tool for ME / CFS.

Last but not least, although there is still much to be done, I would like to take this opportunity to say that knowing about ME / CFS, closely witnessing the greatness, courage, and hope of people affected by the disease and their family members – including Whitney, Ron, and Janet- provides even more of a reason for me and my team to work on this disease. We will do our best to bring hope and wellness to everyone since every person deserves it.”

Thank you, Rahim, for your innovative and dedicated work to help millions of ME / CFS patients around the world.

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

What are the advantages of giving from your Donor Advised Fund (DAF)?

  • Your gifts to your donor advised fund entitle you to an immediate income tax deduction at the time of contribution.
  • You avoid capital gains tax on appreciated assets you place in your donor advised fund.
  • Your fund’s investment gains accumulate tax free.
  • Funds are distributed to Open Medicine Foundation in your name and immediately put to use to support our worldwide research efforts.

How do I make a donation through my DAF?

Just click on the DAF widget below. It is simple and convenient to find your fund among the over 900 funds in our system.

Still can’t find your fund? 

  • Request a grant distribution through your Donor Advised Fund sponsor
  • Be sure to use OMF’s EIN #26-4712664
  • You can also designate OMF as a beneficiary for your Donor Advised Fund
  • Questions? Give us a call at 650-242-8669 
 

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.

BACKGROUND

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 STUDY

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 six prestigious ME/CFS Collaborative Research Centers around the world. To learn more, visit www.omf.ngo.

CONTACT:

Heather Ah San

Development and Communications Manager

1-650-242-8669

heather@omf.ngo