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In Melbourne, progress on chronic fatigue

24 November 2016

Peter Clarke talks to Bio21 researcher Chris Armstrong about new research that challenges popular views of this enigmatic illness

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Big data: the Bio21 Institute at the University of Melboune. Umow Lai

Big data: the Bio21 Institute at the University of Melboune. Umow Lai


With its debiliating symptoms – fatigue, “brain fog,” pain, gastrointestinal disorders – and its elusive causes, chronic fatigue syndrome has been one of the great unsolved medical mysteries. Now, a growing number of research teams around the world are tackling the challenge of diagnosing and treating the illness using new medical research techniques.

By looking at patients’ genetics and the changing pattern of their metabolites – the molecules produced by their individual metabolisms – these researchers have made enormous progress in uncovering patterns exclusive to the condition and countering once-popular psychological explanations.

Among the research centres working on CFS (also known as myalgic encephalomyoletis) is the Bio21 Institute at the University of Melbourne. Earlier this month, amid the centrifuges, mass spectrometers and NMR cylinders used to identify shifts in biological material, Peter Clarke spoke to Bio21 researcher Chris Armstrong.

The Institute’s work is supported by the Mason Foundation, with assistance for NMR equipment from the Australian Research Council.

Bio21 Institute

Symptom checklist

Phoenix Rising website and forums

Open Medicine Institute

Duration: 24 mins 11 secs

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Doctors may deny that they unconsciously bias the results of studies, but the evidence shows they do. pixdeluxe/iStockphoto

Doctors may deny that they unconsciously bias the results of studies, but the evidence shows they do. pixdeluxe/iStockphoto