Articles, Blog

Discovery Forum 2017 Highlights: ME/CFS and Gulf War Illness

March 5, 2020

so let me parallel two illnesses for you
gulf war illness and chronic fatigue syndrome Gulf War was in 1991 right so
there’s a war and a whole bunch of people came home sick about a third
stayed sick mostly men because mostly men went there and they were veterans
they’d served their country the congress was committed to trying to do something
about this. the budget for Gulf War illness in an average year somewhere
around thirty five million dollars a year forty on a big year for the roughly
250,000 ill veterans and they deserve every nickel of that absolutely it should be
done but if you can see that that investment has moved us to the point of
twenty two clinical trials in Gulf Wars in Gulf War illness right with that
level of investment so where are we in me/cfs you know you got looking at this
thing and you’re saying alright our NIH RFA is nice it’s all about pathogenesis
and what are the underpinnings and yeah you need to know that stuff to design
clinical trials but where is the mechanism to do a clinical trials I mean
we have been in Gulf War illness we started doing the systems biology later
than the work that we were doing in mecfs I’m in clinical trials okay
we’re pushing homeostasis I went from from a cell from a virtual clinical
trials to cell based models to animal models we cured a bunch of mice we’re inhuman we’re inhuman I mean we’re in it we’re they’re done we’re there and
we’re in our first phase one study how exciting how long did that take about
eight years about eight years ago I had my first systems biology data in mecfs I
was ready to start doing this modeling then and you know we’ve done a lot of
work it’s not that we’ve been idle but we’ve done it but you know smoke and
mirrors and relatively small funds but we are in the mecfs world we have
the models we know what to do we know we’re ready for human clinical trial I
should have been there first the lack of investment there’s no waste is what I
mean because this was it was so frustrating because with the
with the VA and DoD I mean they DoD in particular it’s a mechanism
congressionally directed medical research phenomenal mechanism because
they can spin on a dime they change the direction of what their their portfolios
looking like every single year they redo their whole thing okay this is what we
learned this year what do we do with that knowledge that makes the in in the
focus laser focus get these guys better you know move it to clinical trial move
it move it move it fascinating work but we’re not doing crazy hypothetical
weirdness stuff here we want stuff that’s going to help these vets and I
love that it’s a really nice way to handle a portfolio what happened was
kind of serendipity the the we were working also and an illness Gulf War
illness very similar than two mecfs and but much better funded and and we were
doing this work with many different universities and we’d written this great
big grant that’s could called a consortium grant that the Department of Defense was
offering then we were awarded this grant and we instead of actually doing the
work at separate universities the key players moved to this university to
start this this infrastructure of this brand-new collaborative team and you
have pioneered in the group also again a few are the only one who did system
biology approach to the entire to the entire holistically entire fields of
medicine and mecfs angle for syndrome to integrating bioinformatics analysis and
modeling with with translational science as well as basic science in our group
you know I get all the credit I mean remember these are I don’t can do
computational biology I know how to talk to computational biologist and I am so
in awe of what they do and the team that we have you know dr. Broderick and dr.
Craddock Travis Craddock and Gordon Broderick um they’re just super crazy
smart and so if the if the Gulf War phase one study is also promising I feel
like the training wheels are often let’s just get going you know this is so
exciting that’s great so I’m very enthusiastic about that
I dare say that this Gulf War trial that we’re just launching right now be done
in about a year will be our proving ground
okay yeah so that’s a little that’s as good as as we hope it should be and can
mecfs arms be added to that absolutely like for instance in our Gulf War
illness trial that we launched it’s in a subgroup it’s in men because men and
women are wired so differently that the models play I fly out very differently
and then it’s in a group with more adrenal stress pattern then then the
other group so it’s sort of like that the high stress men group is this model
but we have a model for low stress men Weber model for high stress women and
low stress women postmenopausal premenopausal we can really play the
model so it starts looking through personalized yeah but in truth they are
subgroups we’re comparing two illnesses Gulf War
and chronic fatigue syndrome they have very similar presentations and they’re
equally complex many of you too may not know that about Gulf War illness we’re
talking about the first Gulf War in 1991 it was very short war about six weeks
long but the veterans of that war had a tremendous amount of toxin exposures
particularly neurotoxins and roughly one in three is still sick today disabling
ill anyway this is very interesting what you you hash out first Gulf War and
chronic fatigue syndrome as much as I am a clinician that has seen hundreds of
Gulf War patients and many many thousands of chronic fatigue patients
they aren’t clinically different you can’t tell them apart
there’s nothing about them that you could clinically tell them apart but
genomically and after an exercise challenge when you really ramped up the
signal boy are they different you know though they have some sameness so what’s
first is interesting is in the case of mecfs what you see it’s a tremendous
decrement in metabolic pathways when you do this kind of exercise challenge
whereas with Gulf War you see a tremendous up regulation of alternate
signaling pathways so trying to get past it um if you map network map this is
when you say okay there’s this this gene path and there’s this gene path are they
talking to each other and how many genes do I have to work through how many
pathways have to work through before these two are communicating with each
other so this is really cool because it takes in what’s working correctly as
well as what’s working incorrectly into the analysis and when you see a normal
person you see a spiderweb of communication average link 10 average
number of pathways 3 so it’s like yeah you can see you can sort of see through
that right with Gulf War there’s so many pathways engaged it’s you can’t even
look at it right you can’t see through that it’s a huge number of up regulated
pathways chronic fatigue syndrome there’s no talking everything shut down
there’s no communication between anybody so a big surprise that instead of seeing
with an inflammation up regulated that the anti inflammatory pathways should
then operate they fail you don’t get a cortisol bump after inflammation it
turns off it doesn’t turn on so this is like opposite land right they
aren’t the same but they present very similarly he’s any biomarker or a good
biomarker for Diagnostics and you take a classic ROC curve like you see there on
their right this is NK cell function and in fact
it’s a darn good biomarker red is Gulf War why this chronic fatigue syndrome
CCC golf for patients have even more impaired in K cell dysfunction but you
can look at many different types of things and this is looking at cytokine
panels above and below the line and if you look at things that are elevated red
is chronic fatigue syndrome versus things that are deficient it’s
interesting was deficient are the things that would improve in K cell function if
they were normal and things that are anti-inflammatory or chemotaxis and the
things there elevator neuro inflammatory and th2 regulatory cytokines so we get
back to what we’re doing we’re saying okay and healthy people here said the
endocrine system the immune system the autonomic nervous system all the neuro
peptides all playing together I have a cold right now so I’m not right there
I’m like right here but when I’m done I would hope I would bounce back to my old
spot but if you had something happen that brought you up over the mountain
and dropped you into this new spot this is your balance and you can’t go back
here it’s not a straight line you have to climb the mountain to get back and so
when we do the mathematical modeling of how to get back there’s never a straight
line it’s all about how do you perturb eight the system enough it has to find a
new steady state and then how do you shove it in the steady state way that
drives it back so this is one such study this isn’t Gulf War illness I say that
because we’re really far along let’s just say we’re really well funded and go
for illness and we have been able to take the virtual modeling through both
cell models and animal models all the way to human clinical trial because we
had the funding mechanisms to do that and this is what basically what the in
silico thing said was in Gulf War illness if you could block the
pro-inflammatory cytokine cascade long enough to reduce neuro inflammation and
then block the HPA access long enough force it to do a internal reboot VSAT
that you could if you did it in that time course one and then two
hypothetically reboot the whole system back to normal
sounded crazy but in Gulf War illness we have an animal model that’s darn good
we took our our dynamic modeling model and we go to all the animal models that
are out there for Gulf War illness and we actually had people do exercise
challenges on the animals and do the dynamic modeling in the animals and
found the best fit and we picked that model as our testing model and then we
age that animal out after we induced the illness the equivalent of ten years of
illness and then we did this and we rebooted we brought newer information
down about 50% which is was enough and then we threw the limit and pristine
dose in there and a single dose limit from Chris stone and we rebooted those
animals back to normal the autonomic function normalized their immune
function normalized their and their endocrine balance all normalized and we
can challenge these animals and get normal dynamic models out of them so we
are over the moon that our very first best model and let me tell you that we
need I say the first model you run twenty thousand clinical trials in
silico before you come up with the best model but when we trick the best of
those men each clinical trials and we put it into an animal model we were
successful and now we are funded by the DoD to do that in human and it’s through
the IRB its back in the DoD human subjects office right now waiting for
the final approval and we will be running this clinical trial before


  • Reply Amanda Rease November 10, 2017 at 11:49 am

    I would love a reboot of my 30 years mecfs at age 59

  • Reply Do Rs November 10, 2017 at 5:35 pm

    SO exciting!

  • Reply Jayne Wagner November 10, 2017 at 6:58 pm

    I think I have a girl crush on Klimas. Honestly she is amazing, brilliant, and a hard-speaking defender of MECFS patients. Now if we could just get a Klimas mouse model and clone her into governments and health institutes the world over we would be the next disease cured.

  • Reply Jill McNutt November 10, 2017 at 8:32 pm

    Dr. Klimas, you're genius! I'm grateful. Xx

  • Reply Gail Williamson November 11, 2017 at 5:49 am

    Wow, Dr. Klimas is freaking brilliant! Did she say they used Pristone or Christone? I'd love to hear what they have planned for ME/CFS.

  • Reply Arthur Flegenheimer November 16, 2017 at 8:08 am

    I am a HUGE fan of Nancy Klimas. However These are highly intelligent rational scientists seeking biological footprint. I understand the focus on science. I am a conspiracy proponent on this subject. If Incline Village was procured from CDC by DOD and then sold to Germany and France for sale on world market….. would this not be a great biological warfare weapon for Iraq to use against Iran in 80s. VX gas really brings a lot of unwanted attention but CFIDS just puts you in a cave of misery very slowly. Great Bio Weapon.
    Why do they withhold access to CDC draw samples of subjects from Incline Village. I am an Incline Village Cluster "Gold Dust" CFIDS Patient and some Infectious Diseases physicians are still attempting to say that repressed trauma from my youth, I don't think children in Upstate New York in Lydonville had a lot of trauma in their particular Cluster. I know I had a great time skiing at Mount Rose on trip when parents gambled in Reno. There are no coincidences about Gulf War illness and CFIDS similarity.

  • Reply jwrobin21 November 18, 2017 at 4:23 pm

    This worked for ME / CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME (Personal Experience for myself and a friend who was hospitalised with it). Google CFS/ME Cod Liver Oil.
    COD LIVER OIL Capsule & Vitamin C Tablet (or Seven Seas Cod Liver Oil
    in Orange Syrup with added Vitamin C available through Amazon
    – teaspoon every 6 to 8 hours for 2 months)
    1,000 mg capsule every eight hours for two months (person 120 kg)
    or 500 mg every six hours for two months(person 80 kg)
    or 500 mg every eight hours for two months (person 60 kg).
    You should start to feel better in about ten days to three weeks
    but to make sure you are cured keep going for two months.
    Do not go by the guidelines on the packet.
    It has to be a capsule every six to eight hours – (I know).
    Trick is to have a container of capsules in your pocket if you are going out
    or once you recover enough to get mobile.

  • Reply maj larsen January 20, 2018 at 4:20 pm

    I do not understand. The trial whit mifepriston in GWI failed in 2015
    Why would it Work any different in ME/CFS.

  • Reply DanHambo July 17, 2019 at 6:26 pm

    interesting! but how do we flick this switch to go back to normal?

  • Reply christina listerina October 8, 2019 at 4:21 am

    Is this contagious? I've heard about mother's passing this on to their children, is it sexually transmitted?

  • Reply Dawn Lauryn November 16, 2019 at 1:49 am

    Is this powerpoint file available to download?

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