On 16 and 17 November 2021, The National Centre for Neuroimmunology and Emerging Disease (NCNED) hosted the ME/CFS International Conference 2021: RID-Research Innovation and Discovery conference.
As a caution, this layperson report may not agree with other attendants’ reports and feedbacks. I wish I could share the details of all presentations and lectures from the RID International Conference.
Last year, NCNED postponed the second biannual International RID Conference due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They announced that this year’s conference would be a virtual and on-site attendance.
The conference welcomed keynote speakers from the USA, the UK, New Zealand, Australia, and Europe.
They generously presented their research findings, research projects, ideas and experiences in a wide range of following segments.
- International ME/CFS Perspectives
- MRI Imaging: Application in ME/CFS
- Ion Channel Physiology: Application in ME/CFS
- Patient Perspectives & Challenges
- Clinical Presentations & Treatments
- International Research Innovation
- Research Evaluation & Translation
- COVID19 & ME/CFS
It was uplifting to see familiar faces and new faces present their recent research, innovation and discoveries.
The last segment of COVID-19 and ME/CFS was new and interesting. Speakers shared their evolving knowledge on Long COVID.
Long COVID is being studied separately despite overlapping symptoms and clinical presentations with ME. It was fascinating that the ME/CFS experts are heavily involved in Long COVID research and possible diagnostic criteria of Long COVID.
Dr Dan Peterson assured the audience that the priority in Long COVID would ultimately benefit ME/CFS.
This conference made me think that Neuloimmunology could be an ideal Medical Speciality for post-viral diseases like Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and Long COVID.
Now, I would like to focus on presentations from NCNED researchers.
Professor Sonya Marshall-Gradisnik, Professor Donald Staines and Dr Kiran Thapaliya kindly made their presentation recordings available to promote clinician education and awareness of ME.
Transient Receptor Potential (TRP) ion channels in ME/CFS: A portrait of discovery
In their recent publication, Receptor Potential Melastatin 7 in the Pathophysiology of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A Review, they detailed the impaired Transient Receptor Potential (TRP) ion channels in the neurological, immunological, cardiovascular, and metabolic impairments in ME/CFS.
In this presentation, Sonya explains what TRP ion channels are, how they function and the possible treatment they are exploring.
Mapping the pathological changes in ME/CFS using MRI
Kiran presented the findings from the following research publications.
- Mapping of pathological change in chronic fatigue syndrome using the ratio of T1- and T2-weighted MRI scans.
- Diffusion tensor imaging reveals neuronal microstructural changes in myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome.
A high field MRI scanner (3 Tesla) was used in this study. 3 Tesla MRI can be used for clinical evaluations.
His study also compared the subjects of Healthy Control, CFS-Fukuda and ME-ICC. Only those meeting ME-ICC detected abnormalities in diffusion metrics in ascending and descending tracts in the medulla, pons and midbrain of the brainstem. Accordingly, Kiran emphasised the importance of strict case definitions/diagnostic criteria.
In closing, he explained the need for longitudinal studies and international collaboration on this study. It was exciting to see another panel enthusiastically agree on the possible collaboration during the presentation.
Kiran welcomes questions and collaboration opportunities. His contact details are in this presentation. Here is the link to the NCNED’s Facebook Page.
In the closing address at the RID International Conference, Mr Ross Humphreys, Chair of NCNED Steering Committee, enthusiastically praised the success of the RID International Conference. I join him to thank the team at NCNED for organising such an inspiring conference. As people with ME would say, it was Post-Exertional Neuroimmune Exhaustion (PENE) worthy conference.
He also suggested the future possibility of improving communication with clinicians and medical practitioners, which will benefit ME Group Australia’s purpose to advance health for ME significantly. *Thank you!*
My wishes for the future RID International Conference are to keep hybrid attendance and give official Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points for clinicians for attending. I would love to see clinicians, professional medical bodies, government, and policymakers attend the next RID International Conference.
More knowledgeable clinicians will improve the quality of research by increasing research participants with clinically confirmed ME-ICC diagnoses.
Did you attend the conference? What did you think? I would love to hear your feedback in the comment.