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Volunteers needed to help tackle chronic fatigue

Scientists at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry are urgently seeking the help of healthy but inactive volunteers to take part in a vital new research project to help understand the mysterious illness, chronic fatigue syndrome.

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Chronic fatigue syndrome, also know as ME, is a debilitating illness which makes suffers exhausted after only a small amount of activity. The illness can prevent sufferers from working and leading a normal life. Sufferers become exhausted after minimal activity.

Relatively little is know about what causes the illness or how best to treat it. This study aims to help understand the condition and may point to new ways of treating it.

The team of researchers, led by Professor Peter White, will be studying the levels of chemicals called cytokines in the blood, but they need healthy volunteers to compare with patients.

Professor White said: “You don’t need to be fit to help. In fact we’re looking for people who take little exercise. All you need is to attend Bart’s hospital to give blood samples and do a short stint on an exercise bike

“Crucially, you’ll be helping us to understand this serious condition and lending a hand in finding ways to make patients better.”

Volunteers will be reimbursed for any travel expenses and be given an extra £40 to cover any additional costs of taking part.

Taking part means going to four appointments at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in central London over the course of 16 days.

To take part in the study, contact Vicki Bates at Queen Mary, University of London on 020 7601 8172 or


Notes to editors

Chronic fatigue syndrome is thought to affect 240,000 people in the UK. The condition can be triggered by an infection.

Cytokines are chemicals which are released into the blood when someone has an infection and they are believed to cause some of the symptoms of feeling ill. Exercise can also stimulate the release of cytokines, especially in people who do very little exercise.

Professor White and his team will be looking to see if chronic fatigue patients have higher levels of particular cytokines following exercise, compared to healthy volunteers. They will also investigate whether higher levels of cytokines in the blood make patients’ symptoms worse.

Volunteers will first be asked to visit the hospital. A week later they will be visited at home for a blood test then asked to go into hospital again, via public transport for another blood test. After another week, volunteers will travel to hospital again, give another blood test and spend some time on an exercise bike. Two days later, they will take a final trip to the hospital for one last blood test.

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