Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) is a debilitating and long-term illness. An estimated 0.4 percent of the population is affected, indicating that there are approximately 2 million citizens in the EU who suffer from ME/CFS.
According to the National Academy of Medicine, ME/CFS patients have been found to be more functionally impaired than patients with MS, congestive heart failure, chronic renal failure, and other chronic conditions. The annual burden of ME/CFS in Europe is estimated to be ~€40 billion annually. The etiology and pathology of ME/CFS are poorly understood and there is currently no diagnostic test and no effective treatment.
In the US, Australia and Canada governments have provided funds to stimulate scientific research into ME/CFS. In an open letter, 115 scientists called on the EU to “align itself with international developments by issuing a long-term commitment to invest in biomedical research into ME.”
The clinical picture of patients who develop long-lasting and debilitating symptoms after COVID-19 are often similar to those seen in ME/CFS. This indicates the importance of investing in research on postviral conditions.
What is urgently needed are funding opportunities within Horizon Europe with a focus on the pathomechanisms of severe, poorly understood illnesses with few treatment options and a high disease burden.
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