Quadram Institute scientist Professor Simon Carding is swapping a lab coat for walking boots to raise money for research into Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).
In June, Simon and his wife Jane (pictured left) will be walking from the Irish Sea to the North Sea on the challenging 192-mile walk from St Bees on the Cumbrian coast to Robin Hood’s Bay in North Yorkshire. Training has already started!
The Coast-to-Coast Walk passes through three national parks: Lake District National Park, Yorkshire Dales National Park, and North York Moors National Park and involves strenuous climbs and long stretches of walking up to 23 miles in one day.
Professor Carding, who is also Professor of Mucosal Immunology at the Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia, leads the Gut Microbes in Health research programme at the Quadram Institute and part of his research is focused on ME/CFS, a severely debilitating condition thought to affect up to 250,000 people in the UK.”
The causes of ME/CFS are not known, and there are no effective treatments. Symptoms range in severity, and there are no easily identifiable biomarkers of the condition, so diagnosis is sometimes difficult.
Professor Simon Carding said: “The Coast-to-Coast walk was Jane’s idea and I thought if I was going to walk nearly 200 miles and suffer in the process, then I should do something worthwhile and raise much-needed money for biomedical research with Invest in ME Research.”
The charity, Invest in ME Research, has awarded £625,000 for continued research into ME at the Quadram Institute and fund a clinical trial of Microbiota Replacement Therapy (MRT), also known as Faecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT) being performed alongside other high-quality biomedical research at the Quadram. Funds raised by Simon and Jane will support this research.
The clinical trial, RESTORE-ME, was delayed by the pandemic but 2022 will see the study get underway once a new MRT facility has been built. ME causes widespread pain, extreme fatigue, an inability to concentrate and for a large proportion of people, gut disorders such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
Although there are various therapies that aim to relieve the symptoms, there is no cure and the causes of ME remain unknown. The planned trial will transplant the microbiota from healthy donors into participants with ME who volunteer to take part.
Invest in ME Research Chairman Kathleen McCall said: “A great deal of the funding for the work of the charity (that includes funding and facilitating research into ME) comes from the efforts of great supporters (patients, carers and family members) who all support world class biomedical research into this disease. It is, therefore, great to see one of the leading researchers also get involved in the same way. Simon and Jane’s efforts will be very much appreciated by all people with ME and their families.”
• Please support Simon and Jane by helping to fund ME research and by sharing their story. You can find their JustGiving page here – https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jane-pennington4