A year of breakthrough discoveries in brain abnormalities in M.E
The year 1989--twenty-eight-years ago--was a remarkable one for the discovery process in myalgic encephalomyelitis. Academic interest in the disease had not yet been muted by NIH investigator Stephen Straus' poorly-conceived and executed research suggesting mental illness predisposed people to M.E., though Straus' paper was published in a psychiatric journal that year.
On another coast and seemingly a world away, California reearchers were studying the impact of the disease on the brain. Using imaging technologies that surpassed the MRI scan for sensitivity and specificity, their findings pointed overwhelmingly to outstanding patterns of brain damage. They observed low blood flow, reduced metabolic activity and reduced oxygen to the brain in a majority of patients tested. The first report on low blood-flow to the brain was presented at a scientific conference Cambridge, England in 1990.
Evidence to explain in some part what is today called "post exertional malaise" was discovered in 1989, too. The Institute of Medicine's 2015 report on M.E. suggested the disease be named for this symptom alone.
By 1989, M.E.'s stark impact on brain integrity was increasingly apparent. As a neurologist colleague of clinician Paul Cheney told him at the time, "All bad diseases get to the brain eventually."