Help us better understand ME/CFS, fibromyalgia and long COVID
UniSC's Thompson Institute is seeking volunteer research participants who will help us understand the underlying illness process of debilitating fatigue conditions, specifically myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), fibromyalgia, and long COVID.
Participants will also help us develop imaging criteria that will aid the diagnosis of these fatigue conditions.
The study is the first to investigate brain function in ME/CFS in terms of energy supplies and chemical messengers. It is also the first significantly sized study to attempt to develop a diagnostic tool by combined advanced MRI and machine learning.
The study might be a good fit for you if you are:
- a healthy adult aged 18-65 years old
- aged 18-65 years old, and have:
- an unexplained fatigue condition, or
- ME/CFS, or
- Fibromyalgia, or
- Long COVID
The nature of the study's investigations also requires participants to:
- Not be taking medication for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or heart-related conditions.
- Have a body mass index (BMI) of 35 or below (this exclusion criterion is necessary because the brain and its functions can differ depending on BMI and thus is a potential confounding factor in our data collection. Please note that BMI is not related in any way to CFS risk or prevalence).
- Meet safety requirements to participate in the study's Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). This includes not having metal implants or facial tattoos.
Seeking adults with and without fatigue symptoms
What the study involves
As a research participant, you would take part in:
- An online screening questionnaire;
- At your own pace, ten questionnaires for assessing different aspects of mental and physical health status;
- Blood pressure, pulse rate, height, weight, and oxygen saturation measurements and a joint hypermobility task;
- Wearing an activity monitor wristwatch and chest strap to capture your physical activity, sleep/wake information and heart-rate for fourteen days. The wristwatch and chest strap need to be returned after fourteen days of usage;
- One magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan (60 minutes’ scanning time plus preparation). If you are willing, a second scan may take place.
Participants with fatigue conditions will also take part in:
- Two interviews with two specialists. Each interview will be scheduled for 30 – 45 minutes.
Research is conducted on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.
Why this study is important
ME/CFS is a poorly understood, debilitating, complicated illness affecting 17 million people worldwide. There is no known underlying disease process for ME/CFS and no biological basis for diagnosis. Diagnoses are typically lengthy and occur by a process of elimination. Treatments are typically inadequate due to the unknown cause. Understanding the brain disease process of ME/CFS will allow the design of biologically-based therapeutic interventions and faster, more effective diagnosis methods.
Fibromyalgia is another common, debilitating and poorly understood condition, which frequently occurs together with ME/CFS, but can occur independently. This study therefore is also investigating individuals with Primary Fibromyalgia to try to understand this condition’s relationship with ME/CFS.
Long COVID is also poorly understood, but we do know the condition's symptoms are quite similar to those of ME/CFS. We're exploring the connections and differences in the brain structures and functions of people with long COVID and CFS. By understanding how the brain is affected in both conditions, we hope to gain valuable insights that can help characterize and manage these illnesses better. This information can guide healthcare professionals and policymakers in adjusting clinical practices and policies from ME/CFS to better address the challenges posed by long COVID.
Tel: +61 7 5456 5445
Ethics Approval Number: A191288
This study is registered with the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ANZCTR): ACTRN12622001095752