Expert Reaction to studies on Gut Microbiome and ME

Expert reaction to two studies on the gut microbiome and ME/CFS, as published in Cell Host & Microbe*, was given out in the Science Media Centre in a press release issued on 8 February 2023.

The two recently published studies were-

The Science Media Centre asked Invest in ME Research's new post-doctorate fellow at the Quadram Institute, Dr Katharine Seton, for expert reaction to these articles.

Katharine commented as follows:

“These studies provide robust evidence for microbial dysbiosis in ME/CFS patients, warranting further investigation into the microbiome to decipher whether microbial dysbiosis is a cause or consequence of ME/CFS.
“The research design of both of these studies expands and improves on previous studies, by including larger cohorts and patient stratification. Findings from Williams’ study compliment findings from an earlier study by Lipkin1 who found reduced levels of F. prausnitzii in ME/CFS patients with IBS but not ME/CFS patients without IBS.
“The authors of both studies have considered and accounted for several variables which confound microbiome data. One confounder which was not explored in either study is the level of exercise undertaken by patient and control groups. Exercise is known to impact the microbiome. Authors have been critical and honest of their studies limitations – Oh mentions that the long-term patient cohort is slightly older than the short-term patient cohort.
“Longitudinal studies will provide clarity on when changes in microbiome composition and function occur.
Therapies targeting the microbiome, such as faecal microbe transplantation, will allow us to understand whether restoration of a healthy microbiome is of clinical benefit in ME/CFS patients, which would indicate a causal relationship between the microbiome and ME/CFS pathogenesis.”
1 Nagy-Szakal, D., Williams, B.L., Mishra, N. et al. Fecal metagenomic profiles in subgroups of patients with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome. Microbiome 5, 44 (2017).

More Comment

The Pre-eminent Location to Invest in ME Research

It is significant and increasingly recognised that the natural place to go to for comments on research into ME is the centre in Norwich Research Park.

Recently, Dr Katharine Seton completed her PhD that was funded by Invest in ME Research and the University of East Anglia [1].

UK Charity Invest in ME Research recently announced the funding of the first Invest in ME Research Postdoctoral Fellowship for research into myalgic encephalomyelitis [2].
In partnership with Quadram Institute Bioscience this new position has been created to continue and extend research into ME and builds on the foundations already made for a UK/European Centre of Excellence for ME research hub in Norwich Research Park. Katharine now continues and expands her ME research career at Quadram Institute.

Further research is being planned at the centre on top of the existing and increasing pool of research.

This is how the charity is facilitating the building of capacity and awareness that leads to the opening up of new collaborations.

Research into ME requires urgency and investment, not endless discussions when we have already the foundations that have been developed over the years in Norwich Research Park.
The charity has now funded five PhDs and is currently fully funding an FMT clinical trial at Quadram Institute (the only clinical trial for ME currently in the UK, and one of just a few in Europe).
The trial has led to further research being added on and we will augment this in the coming year.

The obvious opportunities at the centre make it the pre-eminent location for funding research into this devastating disease, something that the charity has attempted to explain in its interactions last year with DHSC working group discussions.
The value of this UK/European centre of excellence for ME is clear and it is notable that this has been developed in partnership by patients and carers and a forward-looking research institute and university, with world-class researchers.
The charity looks to continue funding the centre and facilitate the European/international collaboration within the European ME Research Group (EMERG).
The charity will have committed in excess of £2 million on research and supporting activities over the last years.

Notes for editors

Myalgic encephalomyelitis

Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME, also referred to as ME/CFS) is a debilitating, chronic condition that has serious, long-term effects on health. ME commonly presents with hugely diverse and debilitating symptoms including post-exertional malaise, unrefreshing sleep, cognitive dysfunction and widespread pain. ME has been estimated to affect around 250,000 people in the UK and direct and indirect economic costs have been estimated in the USA to be $20 billion annually. The severity of symptoms varies. Around 25% of sufferers may be classed as severely affected - often bed bound at some point in their lives with periods of relapse and remission common.

About Invest in ME Research

Invest in ME Research (charity nr 1153730) is an independent UK charity finding, funding and facilitating biomedical research into ME. The charity is run and supported by volunteers - patients or parents of children with ME - with no paid staff. Overheads are kept to a minimum to enable all funds raised to go to funding biomedical research into the disease and improving education and knowledge about ME.
Since 2006 the charity has organised an annual International ME Conference Weeks in London that have included two-day research Colloquiums, Young/Early Career Researcher conferences, and international cpd-accredited conferences that regularly attract delegates from twenty countries. The charity's efforts are directed to facilitating the development of a UK/European Centre of Excellence for ME hub to perform and maintain a strategy of high-quality biomedical research into the disease and encouraging European collaboration in research and development of clinical expertise.
For more information visit
Contact details [Chairman Kathleen McCall, Invest in ME Research, PO BOX 561, Eastleigh SO50 0GQ, UK email:]

About the Quadram Institute

The Quadram Institute ( is an interdisciplinary research centre at the forefront of a new era of food and health research. It brings together researchers and clinicians under one roof and houses one of Europe’s largest endoscopy units and a clinical research facility.
Based on the Norwich Research Park, The Quadram Institute is a partnership between Quadram Institute Bioscience, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, the University of East Anglia and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).
Its mission is to deliver healthier lives through innovation in gut health, microbiology and food and its vision is to understand how food and microbes interact to promote health and prevent disease.
Four interconnected research themes in Quadram Institute Bioscience deliver a pipeline of research in plants, microbes, food and health: microbes in the food chain; the gut and the microbiome; food innovation and population health.
For media enquiries please contact:
Norwich Research Park is one of the largest research parks in Europe and continues to provide the ideal environment for further investment in research into ME.
Andrew Chapple,, 01603 251490, 07713087883

Last Update 8/2/2023