Chronic fatigue may all be in the genes, US says FromYahoo! News:
By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent
Chronic fatigue syndrome, once dismissed by some medical experts as being all in the head, has a clear biological basis, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday.
A comprehensive study of 227 chronic fatigue syndrome patients shows several genetic differences, the CDC team found.
"It really is the first credible evidence for a biological basis for chronic fatigue syndrome," CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding told reporters in a telephone briefing.
"For the first time ever, we have documented that people with CFS have certain genes that are related to the parts of the brain activity that mediate the stress response," added Dr. William Reeves, who heads CDC's chronic fatigue syndrome public health research program.
"They have different gene activity levels that are related to the body's ability to adapt to stresses that occur through life." Such stresses may include aging and illness, he added.
Researchers have recently discarded theories that viruses like Epstein-Barr virus cause chronic fatigue syndrome, or that some immune system weakness might be involved.
"These findings are important because they will help to focus our research efforts to identify diagnostic tools and more effective treatments which ultimately could alleviate a lot of pain and suffering," Reeves said.
Chronic fatigue syndrome is defined by a range of symptoms, including fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, headaches, problems with memory and concentration and often pain.
AT LEAST 1 MILLION WITH CHRONIC FATIGUE IN US
"At least a million American suffer from CFS," Reeves said.
"The average family in which a member suffers from CFS forgoes an estimated $20,000 a year in lost earnings and savings."
Writing in the April issue of Pharmacogenomics, the CDC team said they extensively studied 227 volunteers with chronic fatigue syndrome who spent two days in a hospital ward. Their blood was studied, they were watched and monitored as they slept, and the activity of 20,000 genes was analyzed.
The journal also published more than a dozen papers by researchers asserting a biological basis for the syndrome.
The CDC used a new multidisciplinary approach, which it calls Computational Challenge. They created a molecular profile of each patient, said Dr. Suzanne Vernon, Molecular Epidemiology Team Leader for the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Research Laboratory.
"We put together four teams of different experts and challenged them to develop ways to integrate and analyze a wide range of medical data so as to identify those things that could improve the diagnosis, treatment, or understanding of CFS," Vernon said.
"Perhaps we are closest to being able to predict how someone will respond to medications, for instance," Vernon added.
Gerberding said the new approach, which uses genetics to look for causes of disease on a population-wide level, might also be applied to diseases such as autism, which many experts also believe may be caused by an underlying genetic susceptibility.
===== Though the article doesn't mention FMS specifically, I'm willing to bet that the same thing is true of FMS as well.