Chronic fatigue: a blood test to detect this syndrome so difficult to identify – 04/30/2019



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American scientists at Stanford University are developing a blood test that will allow doctors to diagnose chronic fatigue syndrome through the use of a biomarker.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) results in a great feeling of tiredness but also headaches, difficulty concentrating or sleep and joint pain. Although the symptoms are known, this disease is still difficult to identify.

"When people with chronic fatigue syndrome seek help from a doctor, they can go through a series of tests to check liver, kidney and heart functions, as well as the number of blood and immune cells. doctor for one disease or another, but for patients with chronic fatigue syndrome, the results are all normal, "says Ron Davis, a professor of biochemistry and genetics at Stanford University and co-author of this new study.

Published in the North American scientific journal PNAS, the research concentrated on a small sample of 40 people, half of them with CFS. The researchers collected and analyzed blood samples from volunteers using a nanoelectronic test, a tool with thousands of electrodes designed to contain simplified blood samples composed of immune cells and plasma.

Higher stress in CFS patients

Scientists then caused cell stress by adding sodium (salt) to the samples, and then compared the responses of the experimental group to those of the control group. The results indicate that all blood samples from CFS patients generated a "significant peak of electrical current", while those of non-CFS volunteers remained "relatively stable".

In this case, a change in electrical activity indicates a change in the cellular level. However, a high activity of cells may reflect a difficulty of the body to defend adequately against stress. "We do not know exactly why cells and plasma act this way, or even what they do, but we clearly see a difference in how healthy immune cells and those in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome treat stress," says Pr Davis.

The next step will be to try this method on a larger cohort of patients. The authors of this paper also hope to put their application test to develop potential treatments to improve the medical treatment of people suffering from CFS.

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