Invest in ME


Update September 2014



Daniel Vipond, the PhD student at University of East Anglia/Institute of Food Research, who became the charity's first funded student has provided an update on the current status of the charity's foundation project.

To give you some details on what is currently happening with the project -

At the moment we are focussing on the culturing of gut commensal microbes representative of the major phyla (bacterial classes) found within the average healthy person.

Due to the unique microenvironment within the gut, culturing some of these microbes in the lab can be challenging, thus the majority of strains we are working with are under strict anaerobic conditions, without oxygen.

The priority for our research looking for the presence of a leaky gut in ME/CFS, will be developing and testing a suitable microbe array slide to assay patient antibody activity.

If you were to imagine a microscope slide, the array slide is just the same but with spots containing bacterial cells printing onto the glass.

Patient serum can then be tested against the slide containing the different spots of bacteria.

Assuming that increased exposure to gut microbes (leaky gut) will initiate microbe-driven inflammatory reactions in ME/CFS patients, we hope to be able to detect increases in serum antibodies towards specific commensal bacteria present on the slide.

This approach may help us to identify specific bacterial species capable of traversing the gut barrier and initiating systemic inflammatory events.

Future additions of other bacterial strains, and yeasts to the slide will increase our capacity to detect antibodies in patient blood and may serve as a useful diagnostic indicator for leaky gut syndrome in the future.

Moreover, Navena a fourth year medical student soon to begin her MRes [this is one of the MRes positions being funded by Invest in ME], will be attempting to detect an antibody against a gut commensal found in the microbiota that also has the ability to cross-react with proteins found in nerves.

The aim here is to determine if alterations in intestinal barrier function and/or microbiota firstly, exists in ME/CFS patients and secondly, whether there is an interaction between microbe-driven inflammatory responses and neuronal proteins.


Back to the UK Gut Microbiota Research Page

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September 2014