Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Dr John Gow's research into ME hit by cash crisis

Copy of a report from the Glasgow Evening Times May 25, 2005:

DR JOHN GOW is leading the ground-breaking research on the illness ME at Glasgow University

PIONEERING research by Glasgow scientists which could lead to a cure for ME is under threat from a lack of funding.

A team at Glasgow University has made a genetic discovery which could change the lives of patients with the debilitating condition.

But the ground-breaking work - which is a year from completion - will halt within weeks unless extra cash is found.

Dr John Gow, leading the research, said: "As it stands I will not be able to continue my research beyond the end of May.

"I face having to let my research assistant go by then, which means the team will be broken up and momentum with the research will be lost.

"It would be a great loss for the university and for ME patients."

His plight has been taken up by Alex Fergusson, Tory MSP for Galloway.

Mr Fergusson said: "It's entirely unacceptable that the Executive seems prepared to see this grind to a halt, when we may be just a year away from a life-changing diagnostic test and cure for ME."

Dr Gow believes ME is caused by a gene malfunction which prompts the immune system to "work overtime", making patients excessively tired.

He says a cocktail of drugs could be used to switch off the defective genes, allowing patients to lead normal lives.

The drugs have still to be tested but Dr Gow believes his research is a big step forward.

He is waiting to hear about an application for an additional grant.

Dr Neil Abbot, of ME charity Merge, said Dr Gow's work was "absolutely crucial" and called for more funding for it.

Dr Gow's funding comes from the Executive via Scottish Enterprise.

A Scottish Enterprise spokeswoman said: "This could be an exciting opportunity for Scotland and in 2003 we offered an award to Glasgow University to develop this technology further.

"The project is at an interesting stage of its development and we continue to work with Glasgow University to try to help it achieve a commercial outcome."


•ME (Myalgic Encephalopathy) is also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome and Yuppie Flu.

•Symptoms include extreme tiredness, muscle pain, sensitivity to noise and light, severe headaches, digestive problems and disturbed sleep patterns.

•ME is notoriously difficult to diagnose. Doctors arrive at a diagnosis by a process of elimination, which can take up to six months.

•ME can last for anything between a few months and many years.

•As no cure exists, treatment involves managing the condition by finding a balance between activity and rest.

•For years it was debated whether ME was really an illness. It finally gained full medical acceptance in 2002.


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