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Kerr's Much Anticipated Research Published


(Craig Maupin at April 19, 2008 - One of the most anticipated research studies for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) was published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases on Tuesday. The study was completed by a multidisciplinary team of researchers from the United Kingdom led by Dr. Jonathon Kerr. The research is the most comprehensive look at the genetic signature of chronic fatigue syndrome to date.

Using advanced software, Kerr’s team examined the gene expression profiles of people with CFS, comparing those profiles with the genes of healthy controls. All in all, 85 genes were shown to have abnormal expression in the CFS patients. Those genes most likely to be abnormally expressed were consistent with “hematological disease and function, immunological disease and function, cancer, cell death, immune response, and virus infection”.

The study appeared to confirm speculation that the 1994 CDC CFS research definition, the definition most widely used in CFS research, captures samples who suffer from different clinical conditions. Seven subgroups of CFS patients exhibited different genetic profiles. Remarkably, differences also were correlated in the clinical symptoms for each subgroup. Two subgroups reported the most severe clinical symptoms. The researchers stated that a future article will contain more data on both the gene profiles and the different clinical symptoms of the seven subgroups that they indentified.

Kerr’s approach differed from previous genetic profiling studies performed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta Georgia. The CDC approach limited the genes examined to those genes pertaining to the brain and the HPA axis. In April 2006, Dr. William Reeves of the Centers for Disease Control announced that his research had yielded groundbreaking findings, providing clear evidence that CFS was “highly disabling” disease of the HPA axis, the brain’s neuroendocrine system. However, the CDC has been criticized for the high level of physical functioning of the patients enrolled in its studies, the lack of PCR confirmation in their genetic research, and a decision to limit their examination of genes to those genes pertaining only to the HPA axis.