The existence of a genetic basis to chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) was first revealed with the publication of a ground-breaking series of studies from the US in April 2006. Now, Australian researchers have identified a cluster of genes that may help to further explain this mysterious condition.
The scientists, from the University of New South Wales, have found 35 genes linked to the symptoms of CFS by sifting through more than
six million pieces of DNA and analysing the expression of 30,000 genes in the blood of 15 individuals.
Few of the genes revealed are ones that the researchers had
expected to be involved, and some of them are suggestive of a
fundamental disturbance in cellular function.
Chronic fatigue is most commonly triggered by an acute illness, such as glandular fever, but it does not appear to have anything to do with the severity of the virus, or with immune responses or hormones. We also know that it is not psychiatric in origin, so it is reasonable to conclude that it might be some kind of brain disorder.
The results of the Australian study have provided further clues about the disease process that underlies CFS. They have also revealed the possible starting point for the development of a diagnostic test for the disorder, using a gene expression pattern as a marker.
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First Published in Octocber 2007
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