A GWAS has the major advantage that its results indicate root causes of illness, because DNA doesn’t change with ME onset, so GWAS findings reflect causes rather than effects of illness. With most other approaches, it is not usually possible to know if findings indicate the effects of illness, or the cause. For example, people who are unable to exercise are likely to show molecular changes that are solely due to being sedentary, rather than highlighting the root causes of their disease.

GWAS have been successfully applied to many different diseases (asthma, schizophrenia, diabetes, pulmonary disease, etc. – see a comprehensive list here) and traits. We believe that it is time that ME/CFS science took full advantage of this cutting-edge genetics approach which is entirely complementary to approaches taken by other ME/CFS researchers.

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UKRI MRC Human Genetics Unit logo
National Institute for health research