£13 home-test kit developed for ME 1 hour ago Scientists have developed a £13 home-testing kit which they claim will help identify people suffering from myalgic encephalopathy (ME). The urine test is based on the theory that the illness is strongly linked to certain bacteria and a build up of toxins in the body. Experts are divided on what exactly causes ME, which was dismissed as "yuppie flu" in the 1980s. At a conference in London, Professor Kenny de Meirleir, who works at the University of Brussels, discussed his theory. He and fellow scientists have developed a simple urine test which they say identifies the presence of high levels of the chemical hydrogen sulphate. This chemical builds up after antibiotic use or exposure to salmonella infection, and can occur when there is too much exposure to mercury, he said. Prof de Meirleir's research has shown that around 90% of patients with ME also have an excess of the bacteria enterococcus and streptococcus, which he believes interacts with exposure to metals to produce hydrogen sulphate. Prof de Meirleir, who treats between 3,000 and 4,000 ME patients a year, said his patients had been shown to excrete high quantities of the metals copper, mercury and nickel, possibly contracted through the environment or food. Prof de Meirleir said his new test, produced by his company Protea Biopharma and available via its website from Monday, accurately shows whether an ME patient has high levels of hydrogen sulphate. The patient's urine turns a dark colour when mixed with a chemical agent in the test. "This is a test for a major cause of ME," he said. "Anyone with a positive result should talk about it with their GP and get referred to a specialist." Copyright © 2009 The Press Association. All rights reserved.