Tag Archives: fatigue

Meet Professor Jarred Younger

 

It looks like we have a new rising research hero for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.  His name is Jarred Younger.  He is currently at University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB), and his bio more than measures up:

Jarred Younger

Professor Jarred Younger

“Jarred Younger received his Ph.D. in Experimental Psychophysiology in 2003 at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He then completed postdoctoral fellowships at Arizona State University and the Stanford University School of Medicine before taking an assistant professor position at Stanford. In 2014, he joined the faculty at the University of Alabama Birmingham, with a primary appointment in the Department of Psychology and secondary appointments in the Departments of Anesthesiology and Rheumatology. Prof. Younger’s goal is to end the chronic pain and fatigue that is caused by inflammation in the brain. He is currently funded by the National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense, and several non-profit agencies to develop techniques for diagnosing and treating neuroinflammation, pain, and fatigue.”

Younger and some other ME/CFS and FM researchers are taking a very different approach to these illnesses.  Cort Johnson introduced us to Professor Younger in his “Health Rising” blog.  Please click on the “Health Rising” link to read Cort’s in depth report on Professor Younger’s experiments involving the hormone, leptin and the main immune agents in the brain – the microglia.  I, personally, found Cort’s report very clear and I became excited about this new approach in trying to find the cause of the brain inflammation, the pain, the fatigue and the impaired cognitive functioning.
The notes below, taken from Professor Younger’s UAB research site, are a synopsis of the work projects ongoing in Professor Younger’s lab at the University of Alabama Birmingham:

“Current Projects

Short descriptions of our active research projects are provided below. If you have any questions about our projects, feel free to contact us by email at youngerlab@uab.edu. You may also call our main line at 205-975-5907.

Discovering the source of chronic pain and fatigue

We have found specific chemicals in the blood that may cause chronic pain and fatigue in many women. These chemicals are part of an immune system that may not be working correctly. We have received funding from the National Institutes of Health to contiinue testing the role of these chemicals in disease. If we are successful, we may not only produce an objective test of fibromyalgia and myalgic encephalomyelitis, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome, but we may also be able to develop more effective treatments for those disorders. Women participating in this study have blood draws over multiple days and record their symptoms on a handheld computer.

Daily immune monitoring in men with Gulf War Illness

After the 1991 Gulf War, many individuals in the military returned home with a range of unexplained symptoms. Most of those individuals experience chronic pain and/or fatigue. We believe that environmental exposures while in the Persian Gulf region may have sensitized the immune system, causing the symptoms of Gulf War illness. We are testing that hypothesis by measuring several inflammatory chemicals in the blood of people who suffer from the condition. Our goal is to learn more about Gulf War illness so we can develop effective and safe treatments.

Using botanical anti-inflammatories to treat Gulf War Illness

We now know that several botanical agents, such as mushrooms, nettles, and herbs, have anti-inflammatory properties that may benefit individuals with chronic pain or fatigue. Most of these products are available without a prescription, but they have never been tested in Gulf War illness. We are currently funded by the Department of Defense to test some of these supplements in individuals with Gulf War illness. If these anti-inflammatory products reduce symptoms, then we will learn more about what is wrong in people with Gulf War illness and make progress in treatments that make patients function and feel better.

Developing better methods for detecting inflammation in the brain

We believe that low-level inflammation in the brain may be the cause of many cases of pain, fatigue, problems with thinking or memory, and depression. Unfortunately, no tool is currently available that allows us to determine if someone has low-level inflammation in the brain. We are working on several solutions to that problem, using neuroimaging techniques such as diffusion tensor imaging, positron emission tomography, and magnetic resonance spectroscopy. We hope to make a safe, non-invasive and accurate test available for neuroinflammation. For these studies, we are currently recruiting people with chronic pain and fatigue, and healthy people.

Exploring the effects of opioid painkillers on the brain

While strong painkillers are important in managing pain, they may cause problems in some individuals when used for a long period of time. Some of those problems include addiction, changes in mood, and even increased sensitivity to pain. We are conducting brain scans on people who are starting or stopping opioid painkillers to determine how the drugs affect the brain and cause problems. With the information we gain, we hope to find ways to improve pain treatments and minimize their unwanted side effects.

Low-dose naltrexone and other microglia modulators for pain

Our lab has shown that low doses of naltrexone can be effective in reducing the chronic pain associated with Fibromyalgia. We believe the medication works by suppressing the activity of immune cells in the brain (microglia) that have become hypersensitized. We are now further testing this medication to see who it helps best. We are also testing other medications that may work even better than low-dose naltrexone.”

[Professor Younger’s photo is from University of Alabama Birmingham site]

Statement from Stanford University School of Medicine on Symptoms of ME/CFS

A statement cited from the Stanford University School of Medicine on the blog, “Living With M.E.” said of the illness known in the United States as ME/CFS was: “Its symptoms often include not only overwhelming fatigue but also joint and muscle pain, incapacitating headaches, food intolerance, sore throat, enlargement of the lymph nodes, gastrointestinal problems, abnormal blood-pressure and heart-rate events, and hypersensitivity to light, noise or other sensations.”

Quite an accurate, albeit, brief description, without going into the issues in a more deeply manner.

When Stanford University speaks, the HHS, NIH, CDC, the IOM and all those other departments under HHS charged with direction and regulation of the health of citizens of the United States, should listen.

blue ribbon for me

 

[image from bingdotcom]

 

MS vs ME/CFS: A “Fatigue” Disorder No More?

I subscribe to Cort Johnson’s “Health Rising” blog.  He has taken up the cause of those suffering with ME/CFS for a long time (he is one of the millions of patients).  As in one of my recent posts, the plight of sufferers of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) has been taking up space in headlines of top newspapers.

The current post on Cort’s blog, speaks to the similarities between MS (Multiple Sclerosis) and CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome).  CFS is a misnomer for ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis); however, CFS seems to be a more recognizable name, since its coining by the CDC many years ago.

The issue that Cort addresses in this latest post is the “fatigue” suffered by patients who have the two diseases:  MS and ME/CFS.

He states:

Multiple sclerosis (MS) ranks amongst the most fatiguing disorders known.  Both ME/CFS and MS are fatiguing disorders – but is their fatigue similar?

 It is a major topic for research:  there have been 10 research studies in the last 5 months into illnesses with “fatigue” in their titles or because they are known to create abnormal, exhausting fatigue in the patients!

 

Cort goes on to describe the differences and similarities between MS and ME/CFS regarding:

  • Severity;
  • At what stage in development of disease does fatigue start to occur;
  • Types of fatigue;
  • What causes the fatigue to appear at different times of day;
  • Does weather cause changes in severity of fatigue;
  • How does exercise regimens affect patients’ fatigue;
  • How does exercise affect pain experienced by patients;
  • What other actions contribute to fatigue?

The word “fatigue” is a word that really doesn’t properly describe the bone- muscle- nerve-deep total exhaustion (and pain) experienced by ME/CFS patients; and yet, it is used offhandedly by the medical community, some scientists, the governmental agencies who are charged with caring for the health of their citizens, and others who are incapable of understanding the type of “fatigue” meant.

As part of his conclusion, Cort states:

Despite both disorders being associated with high rates of fatigue, people [with] ME/CFS and multiple sclerosis had very different responses to exercise – and display very different types of fatigue. The fatigue in MS is omnipresent, but is not greatly affected by exercise. The fatigue in ME/CFS is..

 

Letter to President Obama re: National Institutes of Health

Tomorrow, I’m mailing yet another letter to President Barack Obama.  This time, it’s in reference to Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the NIH.  There is a workshop planned for September 2014, which, in my opinion and that of other M.E. advocates, should not be taking place.  Please read on:

Re: M.E. (myalgic encephalomyelitis) and Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the NIH (National Institutes of Health)

Dear Mr. President;

Today, my letter is about the planned Pathways 2 Prevention (P2P) workshop, projected to take place September 2014 to discuss the “Role of Opioids in the Treatment of Chronic Pain.”

My daughter is suffering from M.E. Her quality of life is greatly diminished:  she has body pain all the time; suffers horrific headaches; and many other symptoms.

Chronic pain is a huge national problem, and there are many issues associated with opioid treatment. So you would think that NIH would have made an effort to involve stakeholders from across the chronic pain community, right?

There was no patient representation on the Working Group for the meeting. Working Group members provided their input at a meeting held August 28–29, 2013. Multiple advocacy organizations in the fibromyalgia community had no idea the workshop was even happening, including the National Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Association. At least one opioid drug manufacturer was also completely unaware of this Workshop – despite having a regulatory affairs office.

I, and many other advocates for ME/CFS, have asked Dr. Francis Collins to cancel the P2P Workshop and reexamine the best way to collaborate with the ME/CFS research and clinical community. The NIH has failed to engage stakeholders in a meaningful and substantive way. The P2P Program is simply not designed to do this, and now there is more proof of that from another planned P2P Workshop.

I think what we’re seeing is indicative of NIH’s mindset. Unlike FDA, which has made great strides towards incorporating patients’ input into decision making, NIH is an ivory tower of researchers with limited history of engaging patients and other stakeholders. It may not even occur to them that they need to do this. NIH is not just failing to engage with ME/CFS stakeholders in the P2P process; NIH is failing to engage with ANY stakeholders through P2P (Pathways 2 Prevention).

In closing, I would like to point out that this planned workshop’s purpose of discussing opioids in treatment of chronic pain has a direct impact on all patients who experience great pain, no matter from which disease they suffer. As an advocate for M.E., I ask that you investigate why no patients’ input is being included in the planned workshop, and why Dr. Collins has approved this project which may harm, rather than help, those who suffer great pain.

Sincerely,