Project Team

Akiko Iwasaki, PhD, Sterling Professor of Immunobiology and Professor of Dermatology and of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology and of Epidemiology (Microbial Diseases), Yale School of Medicine

Aaron Ring, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Immunobiology, Yale Shcool of Medicine

Michael VanElzakker PhD, Instructor, Division of Neurotherapeutics, Harvard Medical School

Amy Proal, PhD, President/Microbiologist, PolyBio Research Foundation

Bjorn Bragee MD, Specialist in pain medicine and intensive care, Karolinska Institutet & Bragée Clinic in Sweden

Project summary:

Project lead Dr. Akiko Iwasaki

To use high-throughput approaches to characterize 1) pathogen antibody reactivites 2) immune and endocrine markers 3) autoantobodies 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. Two advanced platforms will be used to identify pathogen antibody reactivities and autoantibodies in study participant samples: The SERA platform and rapid extracellular antigen profiling (developed by project team member Dr. Aaron Ring). A benefit of both platforms is that mapping can be performed to determine reactivity to a large number of pathogen proteins simultaneously. 

The project’s pathogen antibody reactivity analysis will focus on pathogens 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 analysis panel has been custom designed to capture antibody reactivities to over 100 different enterovirus proteins. Machine learning will identify immune and endocrine parameters that may associate with potential pathogen reactivities. 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. 

Project background:

Project lead Dr. Akiko Iwasaki recently published an important study demonstrating biological abnormalities in individuals with Long COVID. The goal to of the current study is to determine if several of the findings can be replicated in ME/CFS. In addition use of REAP and other platforms used in the Long COVID study, the ME/CFS study features additional profiling for enterovirus antibody reactivities in both blood and cerebrospinal fluid. Enteroviruses are single-stranded RNA viruses that have previously been identified in ME/CFS intestinal tissue and even in the ME/CFS brain. Findings from the study will consequently inform the possibility that enterovirus activity in the central nervous system of ME/CFS patients might contribute to the disease process.

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