8 October 2020

The Australian Government is investing $3.3 million in medical research to improve understanding of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, announced in the 2020-21 Budget.

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) is a complex condition that leaves patients with persistent disabling fatigue, particularly after general activity, as well as mild to severe muscle and joint pain and headaches. The cause is unknown, diagnosis is difficult and there are no specific medications for treating people with this debilitating condition.

This funding will help Australian researchers find new approaches to the diagnosis and treatment of patients presenting with symptoms. 

“These research projects will contribute to developing an evidence-based understanding of the causes and disease processes underlying chronic fatigue and its impacts,” NHMRC CEO Professor Anne Kelso said.

“In line with NHMRC’s rigorous processes to ensure the best applications were funded, all applications underwent competitive peer review, which included input from consumer representatives.”

The successful projects are:

  • $1.1 million for Deakin University research led by Professor Ken Walder to use stem cell technology that allows a more accurate reflection of how cells act in the body of their donor to identify new targets for the treatment of chronic fatigue. The team will also use gene expression signature technology to screen a library of drugs and identify possible treatments for the syndrome.
  • $1.5 million for Griffith University research led by Professor Sonya Marshall-Gradisnik to identify ME/CFS biomarkers to develop a diagnostic test. The findings will help update relevant clinical guidelines, improving outcomes for chronic fatigue sufferers and reducing healthcare costs worldwide.
  • $800,000 for University of Melbourne research led by Professor Paul Gooley to explore the role of nitrogen and energy metabolism and mitochondrial function in chronic fatigue in children. The outcomes of this project will aid in the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of the syndrome.

This new funding is provided in addition to the Government’s support, through the Medical Research Future Fund, for a health economics study of the impacts and costs associated with chronic fatigue syndrome, announced in September 2019.

NHMRC invests in the highest quality health and medical research and the best researchers. NHMRC also supports the translation of scientific discoveries to benefit communities in Australia and around the world.

More details: https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/health-advice/all-topics/myalgic-encephalomyelitis-and-chronic-fatigue-syndrome