Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis /Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) is a chronic condition without a diagnostic test and some 80 - 90% of patients remain un-diagnosed. A new paper published in Frontiers in Medicine outlines how having a diagnostic test could greatly help both patients and medics.


ME/CFS is a devastating disease that affects over 250,0001 individuals in the UK, yet there is no reliable biomarker and diagnosis is based on manifesting clinical symptoms, coupled with high inter-patient variability. 

Developing an early diagnostic test is of fundamental importance in the treatment of any illness. In ME/CFS a diagnostic test would help not only  in the clinical management of patients and but give patients hope that we are moving closer to understanding a condition which is currently very much a mystery illness.

Using modern statistical approaches and machine learning Dr Karl Morten in collaboration with  Professor Elisa Oltra (Universidad Catolica de Valencia San Vicente Martir – UCV have identified a series of variables including the micro RNA’s of blood cells and small extracellular vesicles which can distinguish a group of severe ME/CFS patients from healthy controls with 100% accuracy. These two groups cannot be readily separated by a standard blood test. Standard tests return as negative for the severely ill group

 Their next step is to apply this approach to mild and moderately affected ME/CFS patients with different levels of disability and compare to other disease groups as well as healthy controls. This will determine if we have a potential panel of biomarkers which could be used to developed a diagnostic test. 

You can read the paper here: "Diagnosis of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome With Partial Least Squares Discriminant Analysis: Relevance of Blood Extracellular Vesicles"




The ultimate aim of the Morten research group is to bring forward the day when ME/CFS can be cured, through cutting-edge biomedical research. To help achieve this they are crowdfunding for the following five projects:

  1. ME/CFS patients treated with extremely low cold dry air temperatures show improvement for 3 months, but decline by 12 months. Can we identify what is changing in their blood and test if this causes symptom changes?
  2. Blood associated PBMC miRNA and extracellular vesicles show promise as potential biomarkers when comparing severe ME/CFS patient with controls. We will run a validation study with mild and moderately affected patients.
  3. Expand testing to take more samples longitudinally, with clinical assessment using wearable monitors. This will involve our current clinical ME/CFS, Chronic Lyme and Long Covid research project aiming to identify possible causal factors.
  4. A Pilot study in Long Covid looking for alterations in blood extracellular vesicles and PBMCs.
  5. Searching for bacteria, fungal and viral pathogens in PANS PANDAS patients.


(ME/CFS), Chronic Lyme, Long Covid and PANS PANDAS affect over 100 million people worldwide, but remain a puzzle to doctors. The diagnosis of ME/CFS and Chronic Lyme is difficult and their causes are uncertain. Long Covid - a new condition associated with Covid 19 - can potentially help us unlock other conditions associated with infections. PANS PANDAS is often mis-diagnosed as a functional neurological disorder because we have been unable to identify a causal agent.

Research into the causes of the above conditions has been limited due to lack of funding or the fact they are completely new conditions. We have recently identified clear differences in various factors in the blood of ME/CFS patients that suggest an underlying biological cause. Please consider donating to our Crowdfunding campaign to support this vital work. You can make a single or recurring gift and UK tax-payers may reclaim tax on this donation depending on the tax threshold. All online donations are made via the University of Oxford's donation page. 

If you can give any amount to our Crowdfunding Campaign, it will be hugely supported, please click here


Similar stories

Oxford's largest ever study into Varicose veins shows need for surgery is linked to genetics

Varicose veins are a very common manifestation of chronic venous disease, affecting over 30% of the population in Western countries. In America, chronic venous disease affects over 11 million men and 22 million women aged 40–80 years old. Left untreated it can escalate to multiple health complications including leg ulcers and ultimately amputations. A new international study by Oxford researchers published on 2nd June 2022 in Nature Communications establishes for the first time, a critical genetic risk score to predict the likelihood of patients suffering with Varicose veins to require surgery, as well as pointing the way towards potential new therapies.

New imaging study could make diagnosing endometriosis quicker, more accurate and reduce the need for invasive surgery.

A new research study launches to investigate whether a 20-minute imaging scan can detect the most common types of endometriosis, which currently require surgery to diagnose.

Oxford researchers part of major UK initiative to understand chronic pain

Oxford pain researchers are playing a major role in a new multi-million pound research programme launched by a consortium of funders, including UKRI, Versus Arthritis, Eli Lilly and the Medical Research Foundation.

Endometriosis: pandemic backlog risks making it even harder for women to get help

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate and devastating impact on women’s health, according to a report from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

MitOX 2022- 8th April

The Nuffield Department of Women's & Reproductive Health invites you to MitOX 2022 on Friday 8th April. Our annual conference for researchers with an interest in mitochondria from academia and pharma. This year's event will be 'hybrid', so you can join in-person or virtually!

New guidelines launched for diagnosis and management of Endometriosis

A new comprehensive document by the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) outlines more than 100 recommendations on best practice on caring for women with Endometriosis.