Simmaron Research recently held a patient update session with its Scientific Advisory Board and key collaborators to celebrate their 5th Anniversary. Cort Johnson from Health Rising reported on this event and covered some research updates from Dr. Elizabeth Unger at the CDC, Dr. Konstance Knox, Dr. Hornig and Dr. Hanson. He also spoke with Dr. Peterson.
I don’t know if anyone would have predicted five years ago that patients would be hearing from the likes of Mady Hornig, Maureen Hanson, Konstance Knox and Elizabeth Unger but here they were in little Incline Village talking about their work. ~Cort Johnson
Read the full article ‘Simmaron’s Fifth Anniversary Event Updates ME/CFS Community on Dynamic Research Underway’ by Cort, published on the Simmaron Research website. It is worth reading!
Because we love to bring you as much information as we can regarding Dr. Lipkin and Dr. Hornig’s work we will highlight the section on Dr. Hornig, many thanks to Cort for his excellent coverage!
Dr. Mady Hornig
The Hornig/Lipkin team at Columbia’s Center for Infection and Immunity (CII) isn’t just looking at ME/CFS to understand the disease. It’s mining clues from a wide range of disorders – from autism to narcolepsy – to try to understand the disease processes that are occurring. They believe the “omics” revolution – which attempts to understand diseases in terms of their genomics, proteomics, metabolomics (and probably other “omics”) – holds the key to understanding and finding the subsets present in ME/CFS.
Until they get to a cause, Dr. Hornig is unwilling to rule out any possibilities. ME/CFS could be caused by an immune response to a wide range of pathogens (which may be present or not) or to an as yet undiscovered agent. That statement suggested that Dr. Hornig doesn’t consider the earlier CII study which found little or no evidence of pathogens to be the end of the story.
Of course few researchers have looked in the tissues. Dr Chia believes he’s found enteroviruses and Dr. Duffy herpesviruses in the gut tissues of ME/CFS and/or fibromyalgia patients. Hornig and Lipkin have looked in the blood but they’re also raising money to do analyses of the flora in the stool and saliva over time. (Check out the Microbe Discovery Project for more.) Plus, as we’ve seen, a Simmaron/Konstance Knox project is looking for evidence of insect borne illnesses that have not been tested for before.
If pathogens are involved, the heterogeneity in the disease could reflect genetic differences in how each person responded to them, how old the person was when the infection occurred, the state of each person’s microbiome at the time, etc. The take-away message was that different symptoms don’t necessarily mean different diseases.
The CII is doing a lot, but Dr. Hornig started out by focusing on a hot topic these days – metabolomics. The CII team believes that metabolomics may provide the link between what’s happening in the microbiome and the rest of the body. Metabolomics uncovers the breakdown products of metabolism. If a substance, say tryptophan is not being metabolized properly in the gut, it can leave a metabolic signature in the blood that can be picked by metabolomics tests. From the blood it’s apparently a pretty straight shot to the brain.
Marrying gut (microbiome) and blood (metabolomics) data would be the cat’s meow, and it’s begun to happen. Several small studies have been able to link altered gut bacteria to the presence of gut metabolites in the blood. A small Solve ME/CFS Initiative study carried that idea one step forward by adding exercise to the mix. It suggested that exercise could, probably by increasing leaky gut issues, result in increased levels of gut metabolites in the blood.
Dr. Hornig believes that aberrant tryptophan metabolism in the gut could provide a major clue for ME/CFS patients. These metabolic by-products have already been associated with several neurological diseases and are known to cause symptoms similar to those found in chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). If she finds problems with tryptophan metabolism in the gut and then can pick up their metabolic by products in the patient’s blood she can make a strong case for a gut-brain connection in ME/CFS.
While she was at it, she also noted that these bacteria can affect NAD+ and energy production. To sum up, Dr. Hornig is gathering data on a process that could be affecting cognition, the gut and energy production in ME/CFS.
No Mady Hornig talk it seems is complete without an emotional moment. Every event I’ve seen her at has left her and others in tears at some point, and it happened again. I watched an older gentleman come over and clasp her hands. Five minutes later there they were hugging each other and sobbing away.
The Microbe Discovery Project team is working to bring you coverage of Dr. Hornig and Dr. Levine’s speeches at the #MillionsMillions protest in New York. We also have some other things in the works! Thank you so much to every single person for your wonderful donations to Columbia University CII’s huge ME/CFS Monster Study! We are up to $130,069 from 189 donations. Help us get past the first 250 donations!