National CFIDS Foundation Funds New Cutting-Edge Research 8/18/09 The National CFIDS Foundation (NCF) of Needham, MA has funded additional cutting-edge CFIDS research to add to its list of current grants totalling $346,160 for 2009. A team, from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, is the latest recipient of a research award from the NCF. The $91,160 grant is aimed at screening patient samples for a cyanobacterial toxin known as BMAA as well as to study the effects of various toxins on mitochondria and other cells. The principal investigator is Harry Davis, Ph.D., Professor of biochemistry at the John A. Burns School of Medicine whose expertise is in the area of mitochondrial metabolism. The co-investigators include Yoshitsugi Hokama, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of pathology and toxicology, and Ken Yabusaki, Ph.D., biochemistry researcher. They will be assisted by Cara Empey-Campora, Ph.D., cellular and molecular biologist. The title of this grant is: "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Screening for Beta-N-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA) in CFS Serum Samples and the Effects of Toxins, Lipid Substances, and Antibodies to Phospholipids on Mitochondria and Neuroblastoma Cells." In addition, the University of Hawaii group has teamed up with Paul Cox, Ph.D., Director of the Institute for Ethnomedicine in Jackson Hole, WY and Sandra Banack, Ph.D., also with the Institute for Ethnomedicine. Both Cox and Banack are considered to be leading experts in cyanobacteria and BMAA. According to the National CFIDS Foundation's President, Gail Kansky, "This work is of critical importance to our research efforts regarding CFIDS. Since our previous research had established a link between ciguatera poisoning and CFIDS, it seemed only logical to pursue an investigation into cyanobacteria since there exists a scientific link between this type of bacteria and ciguatera. BMAA is one of several toxins that are produced by cyanobacteria. Futhermore, since cyanobacteria have been found in the ocean, lakes and ponds, the fallout could be enormous." Alan Cocchetto, Medical Director for the NCF stated: "Cyanobacteria are suspected in the development of a neurological disease called Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis/Parkinsonism-Dementia Complex which has symptoms of ALS, Parkinson's or Alzheimer's Disease. Since cyanobacteria are considered to be photosynthesizing bacteria, this is particularly intriguing since our research has yielded certain markers that do indicate the possible involvement of toxic photosynthesizing bacteria in CFIDS. By looking for BMAA in patient blood samples while pursuing the identification of other toxins and by examining their effects on mitochondria, the energy production power plants in the human body, we will be able to answer key questions that we believe pertain directly to not only the disease process but could provide important clues regarding the etiology of CFIDS." Several months ago, the NCF awarded research grants to Tsvee Lapidot, Ph.D., Professor of immunology at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel and to Hany El-Shemy, Ph.D., Professor of biochemistry at Cairo University in Egypt. These recipients received $ 255,000. Founded in 1997, the goals of the Foundation are to help fund medical research to find a cause, expedite treatments and eventually a cure for this devastating disease. The Foundation is funded solely by individual contributions and has no paid employees. Additional information can be found on our website at: www.ncf-net.org - and in The Forum quarterly newsletter.