Project Goal: To use advanced technologies to characterize pathogen proteins and associated antibodies in both blood and cerebrospinal fluid samples collected from patients with ME/CFS – a debilitating chronic condition that often begins after a viral or bacterial infection. Specifically the study will employ an advanced panel to identify pathogen proteins and associated antibodies frequently tied to the ME/CFS disease process. These pathogens include herpes simplex 1 (HHV-1), herpes simplex 2 (HHV-2), human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6), Epstein-Barr virus (HHV-4), cytomegalovirus (HHV-5), parvovirus 19, Toxoplasma gondii and Dengue. Importantly, the panel has been custom designed to capture over 100 different enterovirus proteins. Enteroviruses are single-stranded RNA viruses that have previously been identified in ME/CFS intestinal tissue and even in the ME/CFS brain. Because the study will search for enterovirus proteins in ME/CFS cerebsprosinal fluid samples, researchers will know if enterovirus activity in the central nervous system of ME/CFS patients might contribute to the disease process.

The PolyBio lead researcher on the project is Dr. Michael VanElzakker, a Neuroimmunologist at Harvard Medical School. Dr. VanElzakker will work in concert with Dr. Iwasaki who serves as Sterling Professor of Immunobiology and Professor of Dermatology and of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at Yale University. Identification of pathogen proteins/antibodies for the study will be done by Dr. Iwasaki’s laboratory using raw data obtained from the Serimmune SERA platform. The platform uses custom bioinformatics to uncover antibodies created by a diverse array of pathogens with a very high level of sensitivity. The SERA platform was partly designed and iterated by Dr. Iwasaki herself. Blood and cerebrospinal fluid samples for the study have been collected by Dr. Björn Bragée and team at the Karolinska Institutet & Bragée Clinic in Sweden.

The study is funded by Tempi Stiftung via the Johadamis ME/CFS Research Grant.