Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), characterised by extreme and disabling fatigue that lasts more than six months, affects 17 to 24 million people globally. Currently, it can take years to get a formal diagnosis, which significantly affects the people who have it. A new study aims to address the need for quicker diagnosis with a new blood test that has shown more than 90% accuracy in detecting CFS.
The study, by a team of scientists led by the University of Oxford, has discovered a blood cell-based test that can distinguish between unaffected individuals and those with chronic fatigue syndrome with 91% accuracy, according to Science Alert.
The researchers believed that the primary cause of CFS is likely to be linked to energy function in cells. The blood test detects differences between the properties of a type of blood cell called peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) in people with and without CFS, using a technique called Raman spectroscopy and an artificial intelligence (AI) tool, Science Alert explains. Previous studies have indicated that PBMCs of people with CFS show reduced energy function. This study builds on it to show clear metabolic differences between CFS patients and the two control groups.
Using the artificial intelligence (AI) test, the researchers could classify 91% of patients, and differentiate between mild, moderate, and severe CFS patients with 84% accuracy. "The development of a simple test with the potential for early diagnosis is a critical goal," the researchers wrote in the paper published in the journal Advanced Science.
It further elaborates that the findings present a promising approach to help in the diagnosis and management of CFS. It might be useful in CFS from other illnesses, such as fibromyalgia, chronic Lyme disease, and long COVID, reports Science Alert.
In August, the largest study on the disease conducted by researchers from the University of Edinburgh revealed that women with CFS tend to have more symptoms and co-occurring conditions than men, according to a press release. The most common active co-occurring condition was irritable bowel syndrome (41%) followed by clinical depression (32%), fibromyalgia (29%), anaemia (14%) and hypothyroidism (almost 13%).