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By Alan Cocchetto, NCF Medical Director

From Winter 2011-2012 Forum

As noted in the press release found elsewhere in this Forum, the NCF has teamed up with the Nancy Taylor Foundation for Chronic Diseases to fund true cutting-edge and previously unexplored scientific research on CFIDS/ME.

While connecting several dots from our previous research studies, we have chosen to examine what we believe to be is a critical crossroad in our disease process… and that is genomic instability due to chromosome aberrations. As you may recall, the NCF had direct evidence for the development of myelodysplasia and acute myeloid leukemia (AML) from patient samples. Furthermore, cytogenetic testing, which had been completed in conjunction with the University of Hawaii's John A. Burns School of Medicine, revealed that cell changes were occurring at the stem cell level within the bone marrow compartment thereby reinforcing our previous scientific findings. In addition, the NCF had identified work from other global research groups whose findings dovetailed with our developing disease model. We were very encouraged!

This has led us to the current grant for genomic instability associated with chromosome aberrations. Based on all of our previously funded work, does the NCF believe that chromosome aberrations will become a key part of the CFIDS/ME disease process? Absolutely! Though CFIDS/ME is certainly a complex disease, genomic instability would act to destabilize the human health system. This would furthermore prove that patients do not have a psychological illness but in fact have a very serious one associated directly with a cancer process. The NCF realizes that this is a tough way to gain legitimacy but we must follow the scientific trail if we are to get through this very difficult tunnel to applicable targeted therapy!

For those of you that may have the interest, let me now provide you with additional detailed information that you may find intriguing. Dr. Heng's group was invited to participate in a television program "Gulf War Illness" initially designed for the "Best Evidence Series" broadcast on the Discovery Channel in 2007 where they performed spectral karyotyping (SKY) analysis on blood samples taken from patients that were identified as having Gulf War Syndrome. If you have access to the internet then I would encourage you to view the Discovery Channel's program which can be found at the following web address:

In this small sample size (5 veterans of the Gulf War), every one of them tested positive for chromosome breakage which produces genomic instability. Heng stated, "To our surprise, we found that all of the GWI patients tested showed extremely high levels of chromosomal abnormality that were as high or higher than some cancer patients."

The NCF approached Dr. Heng with our proposal for SKY analysis in CFIDS/ME earlier this year. Ironically, the US Department of Defense had subsequently announced, in April 2011, that Dr. Heng would be the recipient of a $900,000 grant to study how genomic instability may be involved in Gulf War Illness.

In closing, I wish to thank the Nancy Taylor Foundation for Chronic Diseases for their kind assistance and support for this important research project.

The National CFIDS Foundation * 103 Aletha Rd, Needham Ma 02492 *(781) 449-3535 Fax (781) 449-8606