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IiME Announce New Target for B-Cell PhD Studentship

Proposal Description

In the recent article produced for IiME by Dr Jo Cambridge [1] the status of the current work being undertaken by the team was described.

The aim of this initial study at UCL is to establish baseline parameters in anticipation of monitoring the numbers, sub-types and functions of B-cells (a sub-population of white blood cells) during the anticipated clinical trial of rituximab which IiME will be funding.

After discussions at the first Invest in ME (Research) Advisory Board meeting last month we discussed with Dr Cambridge the need to extend the work being performed on B-cells with regard to ME research.

Invest in ME are therefore committing ourselves to fund a new PhD studentship beginning next year.

This exciting news will secure the longer term research into ME and augment the proposed rituximab clinical trial.

We see this as a critical development to which we need to commit at an early stage in order to avoid losing momentum in the future. We have been impressed by Dr Cambridge's pro-active approach and the team's can-do attitude which resonates with the charity's ethos.

From our Advisory Board meeting we have heard of promising news.

IiME supporters and the impressive Let's Do It For ME collaboration have shown what the future could hold for ME patients and their families and firmly underpins the charity's total commitment to biomedical research into ME.

It also reinforces our plans for a Centre of Excellence proposal.

Invest in ME is now forging a strategy of biomedical research which has been lacking in the UK.

Together with wonderful supporters and our European ME Alliance partners we are forcing change to occur in the establishment.

We would like to thank our supporters for their efforts, their support, their encouragement and their loyalty.


PhD proposal - 2015-2018

The potential role of B cells and their products in ME/CFS Patients

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME/CFS) is a heterogeneous disorder of unknown etiology. This disease is characterized by unexplained severe fatigue, excessive post-exercise exhaustion; sleep disturbances and other symptoms. The direct cause of the disease is unknown, but periods of stress, vaccinations or a viral infection are potential triggers.

Recent studies have identified abnormalities in the blood of patients, which have strengthened the suspicion that the immune system contributes to ME/CFS. Changes in populations of white blood cells, called B cells, in ME/CFS have been reported by several research groups including those in the UK (Dr Bansal, St Helier Hospital). In addition, treatment with anti-B cell therapy using Rituximab by Fluge and colleagues in Norway have shown benefit to ME patients.

At UCL, with our extensive experience of B cell depletion therapy with rituximab we are performing a promising and extended B cell specific characterization, highlighting certain B cell subsets within ME/CFS patients.  These B cells may also play an important role in disease progression.


How we are going to approach this:

Our hypothesis is that certain B cell products (antibodies and soluble factors) may be involved in ME/CFS. This may be the result of a number of different initial ‘trigger’, particularly virus infection (e.g. glandular fever).

We will therefore investigate:

·      Relative distribution of different maturation stages of B cells

·      How B cells function in response to specific stimuli in culture

·      Possible B cell related targets for intervention strategies





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Further Information:


Return to IiME UK rituximab trial News page


Last Updated: September 2014