Journal of IiME Volume 8 Issue 1 May 2014 PRESENTERS at the 9th INVEST in ME INTERNATIONAL ME CONFERENCE Bios and Abstracts from the presenters at IIMEC9 Conference Chair - Dr Ian Gibson Former Dean of Biological Sciences, UEA Dr Ian Gibson, former Labour MP for Norwich North, worked at University of East Anglia for 32 IIMEC9 Abstract - Key Note Speech People with ME may rightly feel that their illness has been neglected by science. However, this ‘neglect’ may in part simply reflect just how difficult a scientific problem ME poses. To get a foothold, science needs both reproducible objective findings and well enough structured hypotheses to choose the right questions to ask in further experiments. For ME these have been hard to pin down. years, became Dean of the school of biological sciences in 1991 and was head of a cancer research team and set up the Francesca Gunn Leukaemia Laboratory at UEA. In 2011 Dr Gibson received an honorary doctorate of civil law from UEA. Professor Jonathan Edwards Emeritus Professor of Connective Tissue Medicine University College London (UCL) Professor Jonathan Edwards, of UCL's Department of Medicine, announced a highly original new treatment for rheumatoid arthritis in October 2000. His team has conducted trials of a new combination of drugs on patients who have suffered from rheumatoid arthritis for as long as 20 years; all but two of the 22 patients have so far shown marked improvements in their symptoms of the disease. More information - http://www.ucl.ac.uk/medicine/research The recent finding of a response to rituximab in ME patients indicates that at least a proportion of cases may have an autoimmune basis. This suggests that lessons learned in the study of conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, which led to the initial use of rituximab for autoimmunity, may provide clues for research into ME. The story of how rituximab came to be used in RA, and the pitfalls encountered both in terms of finding objective disease markers and in formulating a hypothesis for disease mechanism, will be discussed. Key steps in that process were the recognition that in autoimmune disease external trigger factors may be less important than spontaneous errors within the immune regulatory mechanism itself and that B cell tolerance of self may fail independently of T cell tolerance. It also became clear that there are many ways in which autoantibodies can cause disease and that one should not expect to find a 100% match between traditional antibody findings and disease. Moreover, the use of rituximab has itself proved to be a powerful tool in studying details of disease mechanism and perhaps the same may prove true for ME. Invest in ME (Charity Nr. 1114035) www.investinme.org Page 39 of 52

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