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Banbury Meeting Raises CFIDS Profile
CFIDS received important
exposure to the scientific community in February when 32 researchers assembled
for a three-day meeting to discuss and debate mechanisms of medically
unexplained fatigue. Held at the prestigious
Center of the Cold Spring Harbor
Laboratory on New Yorkís
Long Island, the meeting kicked off the 25th year of
small sessions designed to explore emerging scientific issues that carry social,
health and policy implications.
CFIDS was the focus of
several presentations; experts from other fields provided context and insight
into how fatigue in other conditions is being investigated using new
technologies and animal models. Studies of immune defects, neuroendocrine
abnormalities, irregular sleep patterns, sex differences, genomics, proteomics
and definitional issues spurred lively discussion.
Co-sponsored by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC) and The CFIDS Association of
America, the session will help shape the direction and design of
CFIDS studies at CDC and will inform the
Associationís research grant-making program.
One key issue raised by several participants is the urgent
need for a more sophisticated means of classifying
CFIDS patients that would help to sort out
differences possibly due to type of onset, length of illness, degree of
functional impairment, concurrent diagnoses (such as sleep disorders,
fibromyalgia and depression), age, sex and symptom presentation.
CFIDS researchers left the meeting with new
considerations for ongoing and planned studies; those from other fields
acknowledged a greater appreciation for the complexity of
CFIDS and some expressed interest in launching
or collaborating on new CFIDS-related projects.
The meeting provided an excellent opportunity to raise the
visibility of CFIDS in the broader scientific
community and to draw attention to the great intellectual challenges its study
poses. It was an excellent complement to the Associationís symposia series
(2000-2001) and will hopefully strengthen the
CFIDS research effort, an outcome desired by
both CDC and The CFIDS Association.
Kim Kenney is
president & CEO of The CFIDS