Researchers have published a paper that shows various measures of deformability in the red blood cells of people with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) indicating that they are significantly stiffer in people with ME/CFS than those from healthy controls.
The observations suggest that red blood cell transport through microcapillaries may explain, at least in part, the ME/CFS phenotype, and promises to be a novel, first-pass diagnostic test.
Ronald W. Davis, PhD, who collaborated on the paper, writes:
“It potentially could be a biomarker, and we are proceeding to design new devices that will make a clear distinction between patients and healthy controls. These devices will be hand-held and easy to use by doctors in their offices, or in clinical testing labs.
Past work has looked primarily at the shape of red blood cells, which is difficult to quantitate. Our approach will give a clear quantitative number. It measures the ability of red blood cells to deform while squeezing into a capillary, something that blood cells must do for healthy flow. We measure hundreds of cells from each patient, so, because of this, even though the number of patients is low, we get a very statistically significant distinction between patient and healthy cells’ deformability.
We are putting our energy into developing the new devices as soon as possible.”
The Red Blood Cell Deformability research paper has been published as open source in Clinical Hemorheology and Microcirculation. The authors are Mohsen Nemat-Gorgani, PhD, of Stanford University, and Anand Ramasubramanian, PhD, of San Jose State University, in collaboration with Ron Davis, PhD, and their teams.
The study has been fully funded by the Open Medicine Foundation through the support of their generous donors.