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Blood Test Detects Chronic Fatigue Syndrome with Over 90% Accuracy

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 12 Sep 2023
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Image: The blood cell-based diagnostic test detects myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (Photo courtesy of 123RF)
Image: The blood cell-based diagnostic test detects myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (Photo courtesy of 123RF)

Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is marked by extreme tiredness that deeply affects the quality of life for those who suffer from it. The issue with diagnosing ME/CFS is the lack of a straightforward, reliable test, causing many to rely on self-assessment and questionnaires for a diagnosis. There's a significant need for a simple diagnostic method that could lead to earlier identification of the condition, thereby helping patients better manage their symptoms and paving the way for potential new treatments. Now, an international team of medical researchers claims to have created a simple test for diagnosing ME/CFS.

Led by the University of Oxford (Oxford, UK), the research team has developed a blood test for ME/CFS that has demonstrated a 91% accuracy rate. The team hypothesized that the underlying issue of ME/CFS may be related to cellular energy function. To test this, they focused on examining peripheral blood mononuclear cells—cells with a single, round nucleus, like T cells, monocytes, and lymphocytes. Previous studies have hinted at the involvement of these cells in ME/CFS. Since no existing test could measure their energy function, researchers turned to an unconventional tool: Raman spectroscopy, commonly used in chemistry to identify molecular structures based on their vibrational characteristics.

Speculating that the vibrations in single cells might differ between ME/CFS patients and others, the scientists examined blood samples from 61 affected individuals and 16 controls. They noted a significant variation between the two groups. Encouraged by these findings, they designed an AI application capable of handling large-scale data analysis. When tested on 2,000 cells from 98 patients, the system proved to be 91% accurate. The group is optimistic about their discovery and plans to expand their research with larger sample sizes. The introduction of this blood test marks a pivotal advancement in diagnosing and managing ME/CFS more effectively.

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