Driving research of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME / CFS),
Post Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS), Fibromyalgia and Post COVID .

Long COVID to ME/CFS Study

OMF secured a $1 million grant to launch the first year of an international, multi-year study across the six OMF supported Collaborative Research Centers (CRC).  The aim of this study is to examine Long COVID transitioning to ME/CFS. 

  • Ronald W. Davis, PhD
  • Wenzhong Xiao, PhD
  • David Systrom, MD
  • Jonas Bergquist, MD, PhD
  • Alain Moreau, PhD
  • Chris Armstrong, PhD
STUDY HYPOTHESIS AND DESCRIPTION

OMF has brought together its global collaborative network, across 6 research centers to carry out this global effort in several stages, using a $1,000,000 grant made specifically for this effort. We are actively working to raise additional funding to continue this critical study.

Researchers are testing and analyzing data from individuals from the point of early COVID-19 illness through their recovery or prolonged illness state. This study has an opportunity to reveal what causes one to fully recover versus those at high risk of developing ME/CFS. 

This data will be compared to the OMF-Funded Post-Viral Complications in Herpes Simplex Encephalopathy (HSE) study data to provide another post-viral contrast. This study design offers the chance to elucidate precise pathological mechanisms of ME/CFS and other post-viral illnesses, uncomplicated by factors associated with the chronicity of the illness, the potential identification of diagnostic biomarkers and potential targets for the development of treatments for the future.

OBJECTIVES

  • Collect data throughout the longitudinal study
  • Identify markers in the gene expression that are predictive of lengthy recovery or prolonged illness
  • Analyze inflammation markers in blood plasma and cerebrospinal fluid
  • Analyze metabolomics through urine and blood plasma samples
  • Collate the array of biological data collected to determine early predictive markers of ME/CFS after a significant viral trigger.
  • Conduct a study of the global circulating microRNA expression profiles.
  • Perform global DNA methylation profiling.
  • Conduct epigenome-wide association analysis
UPDATES AND POTENTIAL

Updates from Phase 1

  • All initial post COVID omics studies (nucleic acids, proteins and metabolites in CSF and blood of COVID patients, and HSE) have been undertaken with datasets received from Uppsala, Harvard and Stanford.
  • Computational analysis of all data sets is underway and will be published when final.
  • Longitudinal sample collection will continue along with further analyses.

 

Updates from the Long Covid Clinic at Uppsala

  • A new clinic for patients reporting with Long COVID complications has been opened in Uppsala.* It will continue the work of the OMF-Funded MultiCenter Collaborative Study on COVID to ME/CFS progression.
  • 1500+ patients with initially less severe COVID but with severe sequelae and post-COVID complications are enrolled with surveys.
  • The clinic provides an opportunity to continue studying the disease process as it develops, and hopefully better understand ME/CFS.  A subset of the previously critically ill patients will be monitored for disease progression over time alongside non-critically ill Long Covid patients who will also visit the clinic for continuing symptoms.
  • An additional IRB has been approved to allow for blood sampling and RNA, proteomics and metabolomics.
  • Next Steps: RNA (in Ficoll isolated blood cells), Proteomics and Metabolomics (plasma) will be analysed.
  • Clinical data are continuously compiled and will be sent to the Computation Center for correlation with biomarkers.
  • As with Phase 1 of the study investigators will use genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, and immunology to recover as many immune cells as possible and to characterize their evolution to ME/CFS. Furthermore, we are studying the plasma and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) to identify proteins and large molecules (e.g., antibodies) as well as small molecules that appear or disappear in association with the development of ME/CFS.

Latest Updates from Montreal

  • Development of an algorithm using our 11 microRNA diagnostic panel allowing the stratification of long COVID patients along different long-term sequelae trajectories:
    • ME, ME+FM or FM
    • Severe respiratory dysfunction
    • Neurological
    • Allergy-related 
  • BrainCheck neurocognitive evaluations prior and after the induction of PEM led us to stratify long COVID patients into four clusters using a machine-learning method.
  • Patients classified in cluster A and B exhibit a neurocognitive profile often seen in ME/CFS patients while long COVID patients in cluster C and D exhibit more often neurological sequelae.
  • Preliminary findings suggest that long COVID patients in cluster B exhibit a better recovery of their neurocognitive function than those in cluster A or C
  • Next Steps: Validate these findings in a larger cohort.