Autoantibody Treatments Show Promise for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

The 2nd Virtual Scientific Conference for the International Association for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ Myalgia Encephalomyelitis was recently held in August 2021. This conference was a place for researchers to present work which had not yet been published but demonstrated promise for this patient population.

The ME Association has decided to publish some of the presentations which may be of particular interest. This article discusses the third talk published in this series. All of the published talks will be released in a singular report at the end of this month. As the research in this conference has yet to be published in scholarly journals, recordings and pictures aren’t available. However, presentations may be purchased on the conference website.

This talk was presented by Carmen Scheibenbogen. Her research currently focuses directly on the autoimmune aspect of ME/CFS, and her talk focused on different treatment options.

Emerging Treatments

Dr. Scheibenbogen is from the Institute for Medical Immunology at Charité University Medicine in Berlin, Germany.


The beginning of this talk included a description of ME/CFS. Most specifically, Dr. Scheibenbogen discussed how dysfunction plays a role in the autonomic nervous system. There are three primary path-mechanisms involved.

First, the immune system is disrupted as the result of affection. Second, autonomic nervous system dysfunction occurs. Finally, there is impaired energy metabolism.

Unfortunately, it is not yet understood exactly how these different mechanisms all fit together.

The Talk

The primary component of this talk was discussing the evidence suggesting this condition is autoimmune in nature. First, the onset is frequently triggered by an infection. Additionally, ME/CFS patients have greater levels of autoimmune genes. Finally, there is a common comorbidity of fibromyalgia.

However, not only are there characteristics of ME/CFS that resemble autoimmune conditions, there has also been success with autoimmune therapies for treatment.

Autoantibodies also correlate with how severe patients’ symptoms are.

Dr. Scheibenbogen also discussed several recent clinical trials which studied autoantibodies. Although the most recent trial did not have a promising outcome, there were others that did show promise.

For instance, IV cyclosporine, immunoadsorption, IgG, and other treatments have shown positive results. These trials have been able to identify biomarkers including LDH.

Current investigations are studying FC receptors and monoclonal antibodies.

Conclusion & Takeaway

Dr. Scheibenbogen concluded by talking about the limitations clinical trials have when they are investigating autoantibodies.

Patient selection/recruitment is one concern because patients have varying degrees of the condition and have had it for differing lengths of time. Additionally, there are issues with disease criteria as well as the definition of the disease. This in and of itself makes it hard to measure response.

Finally, funding is always a concern.

The primary takeaway from this talk was that there is clear evidence that ME/CFS is an autoantibody disease and therefore autoantibody treatments may be a beneficial way to target the disease.

You can read more about this talk and the conference as a whole here.

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