Biomarkers or Bust

by | Jun 17, 2016 | BHC News, ME/CFS, Research News, Uncategorized

Biomarkers or bust
Suzanne D Vernon

Suzanne D. Vernon, PhD

Dr. Vernon explains why for the Bateman Horne Center, the identification of biomarkers is mission-critical…
It’s Biomarkers or Bust!


Back in 2008 when I was advocating on the Hill and at NIH for greater research dollars for ME/CFS research I was told, “Identify biomarkers and increased research dollars will follow.”  A Catch 22 if there ever was… Little funding for research to identify biomarkers yet biomarkers are needed to increase research funding.  Or is it?

I’ve come to appreciate that ME/CFS biomarkers are evasive because scientists aren’t studying the “same” ME/CFS; some are looking for biomarkers in sudden onsest, others in post-infection ME/CFS, others in severe ME/CFS and others cast a broad net and study all ME/CFS patients at once. Biomarker research has been hampered because we have not consistently studied the gold standard patients – that is, patients that by Canadian and Fukuda criteria have been rigorously evaluated by a clinical expert.

Sadly, there are very few well-recognized experts in ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia. Currently the Bateman Horne Center has one of only a handful of such experts in the world in Dr. Lucinda Bateman. We are working to change this by bringing these diseases into the medical mainstream, but until that happens we are one of the best resources for clinical evaluated patients diagnosed with ME/CFS and FM. It is this ‘army’ of well-characterized patients that attracts researchers to us and enables us to partner with a number of academic scientists and industry to make objective diagnosis and treatment a reality for ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia.

This is why Prof. Derya Unutmaz, MD partnered with the Bateman Horne Center.  He understands that the innovative immune profiling technology is most powerful when used on the “gold standard” patient.  As you’ve heard Unutmaz received a 5-year $3.28 million NIH award to look for ME/CFS biomarkers.  It is safe to say that he was given this award:

  1. Because he is an amazingly successful scientist and
  2. Because of his partnership with BHC to study well-characterized patients.

Should Unutmaz be successful in identifying ME/CFS biomarkers we can anticipate an influx of interest (from other scientists and pharma) and an increase in funding levels from the federal agencies.

Biomarkers or bustWith the NIH seemingly turning a corner on ME/CFS research ( and research momentum increasing, access to clinically well-characterized gold standard patients and patient samples is more critical than ever. We have two immediate goals – to train at least one new clinician researcher and to move to a larger building. Both of these goals, when achieved, dramatically increase our ability to see more patients and partner with even more stellar researchers to advance our understanding of ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia – to get us closer to biomarkers! And biomarkers will propel us forward.

That’s why for BHC, it’s Biomarkers or Bust!


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