Basic research and drug trials under discussion at the NIH
In October, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced it was stepping up its commitment to ME/CFS and would be expanding its intramural and extramural research programs. Francis Collins, director of the NIH, told Science that his colleagues were “determined to move pretty fast on this.” He asked the public to “give us a chance to prove we’re serious, because we are.”
The first step in their plan is a clinical study, to be announced after the New Year, involving a cohort of patients who became sick after an “acute, febrile illness.” The Trans-NIH Working Group, headed by Walter Koroshetz of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), is in the process of drafting a plan for both that study and for research priorities for the illness as a whole.
In a recent interview, Collins described the range of possibilities under discussion. “They’re talking about everything from basic science – the metabolome, microbiome, immune system, imaging – to clinical trials for promising approaches, including Ampligen and Rituximab,” Dr. Collins said.
When asked about extramural research funding, Dr. Collins said he couldn’t yet specify a number as the Working Group is still devising a research strategy. But he emphasized their commitment to increasing funding. “We’re saying that ME/CFS is a program priority now.”