Sunday, April 16, 2006

Calamity Genes

Happy Easter Sunday. The photo uploader isn't working today hence no photos of cute chicks or something vaguely topical to delay you before I move on to my layman's appraisal of gene research in the ME/CFS field.
From my naive and limited knowledge of school biology, I had thought that genes were fixed - eg. genes for hair/eye/skin colour. But I've learned that there are genes for functions in the body -genes for hormones and immunity etc, that can be switched ON or switched OFF by infection.
Gene research in ME is in its infancy but early results suggest that 11 or 12 genes are malfunctioning, causing us to feel very ill (or feeling 'one chromosome off a potato' as someone once described it). The list of suspects include genes for,
"immune response, apoptosis (cell death), ion channel activity, signal transduction, cell-cell signaling, regulation of cell growth and neuronal activity."
When I read that, I felt as if someone had just read out a recipe for the limping chaos in my body. Furthermore, the study added, "Importantly, most of the 11 common pathways are interrelated, suggesting complex biological mechanisms associated with CFS." Bingo. We told you it was complex and deep. We told you it was more profound than we could express.
I was trying to think of a metaphor for the above and, crudely put, I imagine it's like the functions in your house going wrong and living amid the catastrophic cascading consequences. Imagine if the gas supply came out the kitchen taps, the toilet water leaked from your radiators, the rubbish ended up in the fridge and your television channels were all scrambled. Not that you'd be watching TV in that state. But that's no more inappropriate than the psychiatrists telling PWME to exercise and improve their attitude while some are being tube fed and have brain inflammation.
That's the down-side. The up-side is that (after 30 years) this research is finally heading us in the right direction. Certainly a new beginning fitting for Easter.
Gene expression profile exploration of a large dataset on chronic fatigue syndrome.Journal: Pharmacogenomics. 2006 Apr;7(3):429-440.Related Articles,Hong Fang [1], Qian Xie [1], Roumiana Boneva [2], Jennifer Fostel [3], Roger Perkins [1] & Weida Tong [4.*]


Anonymous said...

That sounds like Dr Gow's or Dr Kerr's work, but you give a different reference at the end, so I guess it is someone else doing similar work? Have you got a link for that?

These are in a somewhat random order I'm afraid. Some are medical, some are campaigning, a bit of a mix.

Ciara said...

Thanks anonymous -

I found this study via a Co-Cure digest. I'm sure you know

? Sorry, I'm not very good with links as i can't do html yet. Will get someone to give me a lesson.


nmj said...

hey c

nice analogy of a catastrophe-ridden house! . . . one day, the psychiatrists will wear dunce caps in the corner, you bet they will!


Anonymous said...

ciara, nmj - you might like to read this about the psychiatrists and their influence, it's a blog by an ME sufferer, she puts it very well.

ciara - I heard of co-cure but I hadn't seen the digest, so thanks.

Sue Jackson said...

Ciara -
I am so encouraged by the genetic research! It seems like such a huge step forward; it has to lead to some sort of breakthrough. If only ME/CFS had more funding and recognition. If the general public and medical community really knew what it was like (I liked your analogy), I think it would get a lot more attention.

Janette said...

I recently attended a presentation given by Dr Gow regarding his gene research and it was truly amazing. The words that came into my head as I sat and watched was "Wow We Really Are Sick". Not that I did not already know this. The genes that he refers to as being either over regulated or under regulated certainly explain a lot of our symptoms. It is scarily exciting research
I think my house needs completely rebuilt.