On 12th May, ME Awareness Day 2021, it’s encouraging to mention two new projects funded by ME Research UK –
ME Awareness Week: New project announcement
We are delighted to announce that ME Research UK has awarded funding to Dr Leighton Barnden at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia for his new study investigating brain-stem dysfunction in ME/CFS.
Many of the symptoms experienced by people with ME/CFS – including problems with concentration, memory, vision and heart-rate control – suggest abnormalities in the brain and nervous system. Indeed, research has demonstrated changes to the brain structure of ME/CFS patients, as well as impairments in the connectivity between different regions of the brain, and disruption to the autonomic nervous system (which regulates many body functions).
Dr Leighton Barnden and his team at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia have been particularly active in this area, and their many findings include demonstrating impairments in nerve signalling in the brain stem.
Having previously used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to show impairments in connectivity in the reticular activation system (which has important regulatory functions), the team now plans to investigate these further using a more advanced MRI scanner and methods.
ME Awareness Week: Another new project
We are delighted to announce that ME Research UK has awarded funding to Mr James Allison at Newcastle University for his new study exploring pain and autonomic dysfunction in ME/CFS and temporomandibular disorders (TMDs).
Widespread pain affecting the muscles and joints is a significant problem for people with ME/CFS, and has a huge impact on their everyday activities and quality of life. While central sensitisation in the brain and dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) are thought to play a role, the precise mechanisms involved are not yet known.
TMDs are a group of musculoskeletal conditions affecting the muscles that move the jaw. They cause pain in the face and jaw, and are more common in ME/CFS than in the general population. Research from Prof. Julia Newton’s group at Newcastle University suggests that the link between ME/CFS and TMDs may be due to a common underlying problem affecting the ANS.
James is an oral surgeon in Newcastle who plans to investigate the brain’s response to painful pressure in people with either or both of these conditions, in order to determine where any differences may occur, and whether this pain can be reduced by stimulation of the vagus nerve.