Correlation? Causation? ¯_(ツ)_/¯

Scientists have identified what they claim is a biomarker for chronic fatigue syndrome.

I am not so sure.

What they are describing is a marker for a stressed immune system, and there are any number of conditions that stress the immune system.

What they need to do is look at how this test works for people with other related conditions: Depression, mitochondrial disorders, McArdle’s disorder, etc.

Then again, I’m an engineer, not a doctor, dammit!*

People suffering from a debilitating and often discounted disease known as chronic fatigue syndrome may soon have something they’ve been seeking for decades: scientific proof of their ailment.

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have created a blood test that can flag the disease, which currently lacks a standard, reliable diagnostic test.

“Too often, this disease is categorized as imaginary,” said Ron Davis, PhD, professor of biochemistry and of genetics. When individuals with chronic fatigue syndrome seek help from a doctor, they may undergo a series of tests that check liver, kidney and heart function, as well as blood and immune cell counts, Davis said. “All these different tests would normally guide the doctor toward one illness or another, but for chronic fatigue syndrome patients, the results all come back normal,” he said.

The problem, he said, is that they’re not looking deep enough. Now, Davis; Rahim Esfandyarpour, PhD, a former Stanford research associate; and their colleagues have devised a blood-based test that successfully identified participants in a study with chronic fatigue syndrome. The test, which is still in a pilot phase, is based on how a person’s immune cells respond to stress. With blood samples from 40 people — 20 with chronic fatigue syndrome and 20 without — the test yielded precise results, accurately flagging all chronic fatigue syndrome patients and none of the healthy individuals.

The diagnostic platform could even help identify possible drugs to treat chronic fatigue syndrome. By exposing the participants’ blood samples to drug candidates and rerunning the diagnostic test, the scientists could potentially see whether the drug improved the immune cells’ response. Already, the team is using the platform to screen for potential drugs they hope can help people with chronic fatigue syndrome down the line.

They have shown a test for immune response to various stressors, but this does not make it a reliable test for CFS, nor for that matter, does it prove the existence of CFS.

Absent a mechanism, or a more extensive study and comparison to other conditions that resemble, it’s very preliminary to claim proof of anything.

*I love it when I get to go all Dr. McCoy!

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