Katharine Seton from the Quadram Institute has been awarded a Solve M.E. Ramsay Research Grant to better understand premature ageing of the immune system in people with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS).
The grant will build on current studies linking the immune response to gut microbes. It’s hoped that this will lead to therapies that target the gut microbiome to alleviate ME/CFS symptoms and improve the lives of people with ME/CFS.
Katharine is a Postdoctoral Scientist in Professor Simon Carding’s research group. She recently completed her PhD studying the immune reactivity to gut microbes in ME/CFS patients, which was funded by the charity Invest in ME Research.
Katharine will now use the Ramsay funding to investigate the link between microbial dysbiosis and premature ageing of the immune system in ME/CFS.
This will expand on what will be learned from a planned clinical trial of Faecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT) to treat ME/CFS, which was paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The RESTORE-ME Trial is supported by Invest in ME Research, and will use a new Facility for Faecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT) under construction within the Quadram Institute.
This clinical trial will assess the efficacy of FMT — the transfer of stool microbes from a person with healthy colon flora to another individual for therapeutic purposes. The Ramsay grant will be used to determine whether FMT is able to restore immune function in ME/CFS patients and whether this affects symptoms.
This is important both for understanding the role of the immune system in ME/CFS, and to understand a mechanism by which FMT could improve quality of life for people with ME/CFS.
“I am delighted to have been awarded the Ramsay Research Grant. This grant will enable the expansion of ME/CFS research being undertaken at the Norwich Research Park” said Katharine.
“This will be the first ever study to explore premature ageing of the immune system in ME/CFS patients. Crucially, utilising samples collected from ME/CFS patients before and after the FMT intervention will enable us to discover how the microbiome contributes to premature ageing of the immune system and whether FMT is able to restore immune function.”
Katharine’s grant is one of five awarded in October 2022 by through the Ramsay Research Grant Program by which Solve M.E. supports research into the underlying causes of ME/CFS and Long Covid.
“The Ramsay Grants this year reflect an intentional focus on research that gets us closer to diagnostics and treatments for ME/CFS and Long Covid. I am thrilled that we are at a point where we can support trials that deploy therapeutic interventions and study if they can meaningfully reduce symptoms in people with ME/CFS,” says Solve M.E. CEO Oved Amitay.
“I am also encouraged to see how ME/CFS can benefit from progress in Long Covid, as well as the potential to develop animal models, which can help translate basic research into drug development. We look forward to learning more about the progress of these exciting studies in the coming months.”