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From Fall 2014 Forum

Recent newsletters from the National CFIDS Foundation have reported that there was chromosome damage found in CFIDS/ME patients when Dr. Henry Heng, an associate Professor of Molecular Medicine and Genetics at Wayne State University found abnormalities on a much higher magnitude than healthy individuals. They were found to have chromosome breakage and more than half of them had translocations of their chromosomes that are known to be a pathway to cancer. So what is a chromosome?

Every cell in your body is wrapped up tightly by a thread-like structure and those structures are called chromosomes. You can’t see a chromosome even if you use a microscope unless they’re dividing. What research has been discovered about chromosomes has only been learned when researchers observe them during cell division. Every chromosome in your body has a point where it divides into two sections and that division is called a centromere and it gives the chromosome its unique shape that allows researchers to find out where genes are located.

Thread-like chromosomes are found in both animal and plant cells and, along with DNA and RNA, they are made up of protein. If the body’s DNA didn’t have these thread-like structures called chromosomes, they would be too long to even fit inside the cell. One example of that would be if one could unwind the DNA from the chromosome holding it tightly and put them end-to-end, they could be six feet long! Cells have to divide constantly to replace worn out cells but if the DNA isn’t held together with a chromosome, the division won’t be able to happen the right way. If you have a defective chromosome or a change in the number of chromosomes, it leads to a serious problem. One example of these defective chromosomes is a particular type of leukemia.

Plants, animals and humans all have chromosomes that are in pairs. Humans also have smaller chromosomes that are circular and those are found in the mitochondria, which is the energy part of the cell structure. But abnormalities were found when Dr. Heng looked at CFIDS/ME and he found an error in the cell division.

The work presently being done in Ireland should tell us even more about the chromosomes and what is going wrong with them in this disease. The more we know, the easier it will be to find an actual therapy that will help both you and I to feel better! The work has already proven that we do not feel sick due to “fatigue” and that this illness is not a syndrome but an actual disease. That’s the main reason why the NCF will never refer to this illness as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) since that is not only trivializing the illness but it is also ignoring the science that already proved the immune dysfunction that is happening on a constant basis in CFIDS/ME. It has been suggested that patients have their total lymphocytes tested on a regular basis (CD3) along with their helper T-cells (CD4) and their cytotoxic/suppressor T-cells(CD8). It is also good to test for the CD19 which are the mature B-cells and the CD4/ CD8 Ratio Lymphocyte profiles gives immunologists an idea of immune system’s dysfunction.

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