NIH Study Takes The Deepest Dive Yet Into Baffling Condition

NBC News

 

By Maggie Fox in NBC News.

 

Brian Vastag remembers the moment he was hit with the infection that changed his life.

“It started very suddenly — July 8, 2012, at 9:30 in the morning,” he said. “It was almost like a switch. It was a sudden fever and dizziness.”

Five years later, Vastag is taking part in an intense experiment aimed at finding out if and how that infection may have disrupted his nervous system, leaving him with myalgic encephalomyelitis, commonly known as chronic fatigue syndrome, or ME/CFS.

It’s a study that will take volunteers into the frontiers of medical science. Their cells will be used to make genetically engineered mice with human immune systems, and their blood cells will be turned into nerve cells using a transformative technology that’s still the stuff of science journals.

Vastag is spending two weeks at the National Institutes of Health outside Washington, D.C., undergoing an intense battery of tests. He has been providing blood, spinal fluid and urine samples. He’s taking grip tests and getting X-rays. He will undergo magnetic resonance imaging and functional MRI to see what’s happening in his brain — there’re also neurocognitive tests, exercise tolerance tests, as well as tests of the autonomic nervous system, the immune system and metabolic function.

 

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