Can You Test for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
May 22 2019 Read 1213 Times
In a breakthrough study that could change lives, a team of researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine has developed a blood test that can detect chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), a condition that's notoriously difficult to diagnose due to the lack of a standard and accurate test.
"Too often, this disease is categorised as imaginary," explains Ron Davis, PhD, senior author of the study.
Arming doctors with new diagnostic technology
Causes of the syndrome, which is also known as systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID) or myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), are unknown which makes it hard to detect and treat. As a result, doctors often come up emptyhanded after testing for issues with the liver, heart and kidneys. The new blood-based test could help doctors dig deeper and pinpoint the real issue behind symptoms of extreme exhaustion.
"All these different tests would normally guide the doctor toward one illness or another, but for chronic fatigue syndrome patients, the results all come back normal," adds Davis.
The link between CFS and cellular health
The new diagnostic technology was developed using blood samples from 40 participants - 20 diagnosed with CFS and 20 without. Davis and his colleagues employed a technique called "nanoelectronic assay" which uses electrical current to put cells under stress and measure miniscule changes in energy. Small changes indicate good overall health of immune cells and blood plasma, while bigger fluctuations are associated with the poor cellular health characterised by CFS. The test successfully flagged all patients diagnosed with CFS and excluded the remaining 20.
"We don't know exactly why the cells and plasma are acting this way, or even what they're doing," Davis said. "But there is scientific evidence that this disease is not a fabrication of a patient's mind. We clearly see a difference in the way healthy and chronic fatigue syndrome immune cells process stress."
While the test is still in the pilot phase, Davis asserts it could eventually arm doctors with the scope to analyse how an individual's immune cells respond to stress and detect cases of chronic fatigue syndrome.
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