ME, chronic fatigue syndrome and long Covid project receives Innovate UK funding

PrecisionLife has received an Advancing Precision Medicine grant from Innovate UK to investigate the causes of myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), also known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), and long Covid.

Posted on: 08/05/2024

PrecisionLife is a precision medicine company focused on finding better, more personalised treatment options for complex chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and endometriosis. It analyses large amounts of data from sources such as clinical trials, patient charities, biobanks, and research organisations to stratify, or segment, patients into clinically relevant subgroups. It can then identify potential drug targets based on the cause of each subgroups’ condition and help healthcare providers diagnose these conditions more accurately and effectively. 

What’s the challenge? 

ME/CFS and long Covid are debilitating conditions, profoundly affecting the quality of life and socioeconomic participation of over two million people in the UK (according to figures from NICE and ONS). The conditions place a huge burden on the NHS both in terms of treating patients for the long term and because of staff losses. They have a wide range of long-term effects and symptoms, including reductions in muscle strength and energy production, cardiovascular changes, and increased stroke/heart attack and micro coagulation (blood clot) risks. 

There are currently no effective ways to diagnose the conditions and no therapies that affect the diseases. Patients can struggle for years to get a definitive diagnosis and then only at the best receive symptomatic relief. 

The answers are in the data 

PrecisionLife’s analytical platform recently identified the first reproducible genetic associations with ME/CFS and long Covid. Their LOCOME (LOng COvid and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) project, funded by Innovate UK, will extend this work to include analysis of a larger patient dataset from the world’s largest ME/CFS study, DecodeME, developed by the ME/CFS partnership between Action for ME and the Human Genetics Unit at the University of Edinburgh, as well as additional long Covid patients. The information from the DecodeME study that will be used will include genomic data (genes, their functions and their influence on the body) and detailed phenotypic data including ME/CFS symptoms, severity and any other medical conditions, plus relevant demographic data such as the age, ethnicity and sex of patients. 

We believe this project will demonstrate a powerful new ability to generate clinically useful disease insights from multimodal patient data that can be adopted and applied in a time- and cost-efficient manner in primary care settings. This will improve diagnosis and treatment of the most intractable and costly diseases which have huge unmet medical need, socioeconomic burdens and impacts on the NHS. The Innovate UK grant will help us to progress this project more quickly and hopefully help patients sooner.

– Dr Steve Gardner, PrecisionLife’s Chief Executive Officer

Project goals 

One of the first project objectives will be for PrecisionLife to use its precision medicine approach to identify the biological mechanisms driving disease in different groups of patients. The results will be used to create the first predictive diagnostic tools and risk models that can rapidly triage patients presenting to a doctor with potential ME/CFS or long Covid symptoms.  

These disease insights will also be used to identify new opportunities to reposition existing treatments of other diseases to be used as disease modifying treatments for ME/CFS or long Covid.  

Having demonstrated success in ME/CFS and long Covid, there are many diseases of ageing, respiratory conditions, dementia, autoimmune and metabolic diseases that would also benefit from the approach demonstrated by the PrecisionLife LOCOME project. 

For more information on support available for health companies visit our Health sector page.

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