The Gut Microbiota Research Project is the first element in Invest in ME Research’s proposal to establish a Centre of Excellence for ME in the UK.

The first part of this project titled ‘A role for a leaky gut and the intestinal microbiota in the pathophysiology of myalgic encephalomyelitis’ aims to find whether there is evidence of a leaky gut in ME patients. It will determine if alterations in intestinal barrier function and/or microbiota exist in ME patients, and whether microbe-driven inflammatory responses can provide an explanation for the pathophysiology of ME. This project will be looking for all viruses and determining the relevance of those found.

Thanks to extraordinary efforts, dedication and sheer hard work by patients and their carers, families and friends the £100,000 needed for this research was successfully crowdfunded in May 2013.

The project is a three year studentship project under the guidance of Professors Carding (pictured) and Wileman. It began in October 2013 and is being performed at the University of East Anglia, and in conjunction with two other major organisations in the Norwich Research Park – the Institute of Food Research and the The Genome Analysis Centre’s sequencing facility. The studentship is based in the Norwich Medical School and the Institute for Food Research at Norwich Research Park.

UEA and IFR are world-renowned organisations with some of the best researchers and facilities in the UK. The institutions and researchers have expertise in this area and are well placed to perform this research.

Importantly this foundation research project will also enable a database to be established for use in further research. It was first proposed in 2010 by the Invest in ME Steering Group formed to instigate the setting up of the examination and research facility. More on the proposal here.

 

STUDY DETAILS

Recent studies [Fluge et al (2011) Plos ONE 6:e26358] point to a link between autoimmunity and myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME or ME/CFS).

Autoimmune reactions lead to inflammation, increased permeability of blood vessels and migration of lymphocytes to sites of injury. Microglia within the brain can be primed during chronic inflammatory diseases, but can then induce inflammation in the brain when they are triggered by a second inflammatory challenge such as a systemic microbial infection. This raises the possibility that the damaging neuro-inflammation seen during ME may be triggered by systemic infections.

The gastrointestinal tract contains a microbiota consisting of a vast number of bacteria and viruses. The microbiota can influence intestinal barrier function and host defence against microbial challenge. Changes in the microbiota can cause local and systemic chronic inflammation. This project will determine if alterations in intestinal barrier function and/or microbiota exist in ME patients, and whether microbe-driven inflammatory responses can provide an explanation for the pathophysiology of ME.

  • The project began in October 2013. This is a three year studentship project.

  • The cohort selected will fit the Canadian Consensus Criteria and include the severely affected.

  • The studentship will be based in the Norwich Medical School and the Institute for Food Research at Norwich Research Park.

  • The student, Daniel Vipond (pictured above front), will analyse serum samples from patients with ME for integrity of intestinal barrier function.

  • Faecal samples from patients will be analysed by high throughput pyrosequencing and appropriate bioinformatics to profile the microbiota in terms of bacteria and virus populations.

  • Parallel studies will assess microbiota metabolism by LC/MS/NMR analysis by the IFR Metabolomics Partnership.

 

 
 

GUT MICROBIOTA PROJECT II

We are now fundraising a further £100,000 for future phases of this work and to build a solid base of research into ME. This will fund follow-on studentships which will complement the work already underway as we broaden the scope of the study and establish the foundations for a Centre of Excellence for ME.

Project II involves two further 3 year studentships at UEA/IFR under the supervision of Professors Carding and Wileman joint funded by the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences and Invest in ME Research. Both are titled ‘Defining autoimmune aspects of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome’.

With both studentships the aim of the PhD project is to investigate the underlying causes of ME and provide evidence of autoreactive immune cells in patients and whether increased microbial translocation across the intestinal wall is a causal factor in the generation of autoreactivity.

The multidisciplinary projects benefit from the contacts and collaborations Invest in ME Research have built up over 10 years of organising and hosting international biomedical research conferences and collaborative meetings. In particular they benefit from current collaborations with the Neuroimmunology group of Professor Angela Vincent at Oxford University and with Professor Jonathan Edwards, University College London, a lead researcher in clinical trials of B-cell depletion for autoimmune disease.

Further details on each of the studentship projects below. Updates and answers to the most frequently asked questions about the Gut Microbiota Projects are on the Invest in ME Research website here.

 

Under the supervision of Professor Carding the objectives of the PhD project are to:

1. Investigate the presence of auto-antibodies reactive with intestinal microbes and/or cells of the central nervous system (CNS) in newly diagnosed patients and in those with established disease.

2. Investigate the presence of auto-reactive T lymphocytes specific for antigens expressed by intestinal microbes and determine if they have the capacity to home to the CNS in ME/CFS patients.

3. Define the functional properties of auto-reactive antibodies and T cells identified in ME/CFS patients.

The project also benefits from current collaborations with the Neuroimmunology group of Prof Angela Vincent at Oxford University that has expertise in characterising pathogenic antibodies in autoimmune disease affecting the CNS.

http://www.findaphd.com/search/ProjectDetails.aspx?PJID=57016&LID=436

 

 
 

Under the supervision of Professor Wileman the objectives of the PhD project are to:

1. Investigate the presence of auto-antibodies reactive with intestinal microbes and/or cells of the central nervous system (CNS) in newly diagnosed patients and in those with established disease.

2. Determine if auto-antibodies recognising intestinal microbes and/or cells of the central nervous system (CNS) are removed during B-cell depletion therapy.

The project also benefits from current collaborations with the Neuroimmunology group of Prof Angela Vincent at Oxford University that has expertise in characterising pathogenic antibodies in autoimmune disease affecting the CNS and work with Prof Jonathan Edwards, University College, a lead researcher in clinical trials of B-cell depletion for autoimmune disease.

http://www.findaphd.com/search/ProjectDetails.aspx?PJID=61719&LID=436

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions
 

For more information & updates on the projects visit

www.investinme.org

 

Invest in ME Research – Let’s Do It!


 

LAST UPDATED MARCH 2015