‘The Science of M.E. (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) and Medical Politics.’ Colchester Saturday 3rd December

‘The Science of M.E. (Myalgic  Encephalomyelitis) and Medical Politics.’

I  am Jenny’s Mum and I went to a talk given by Dr Ian Gibson on Saturday December 3rd 2011 in Lexden, Colchester, Essex, UK. Dr Gibson had been invited to speak by the Colchester M.E. Self Help Group and he spoke on ‘The Science of M.E. (Myalgic  Encephalomyelitis) and Medical Politics.’

Dr Gibson is not a G.P. He is retired from medical  research and from being an Member of Parliament for Norwich, Norfolk,UK where he still lives. One of his interests is M.E. The talk started with a little resume of the premiere of the film ‘Voices from the Shadows’ which he and about 100 others saw the previous night in Norwich. ‘Voices from the Shadows’ is a film giving a voice to the many severe M.E. sufferers  and their families and carers in the UK. When the film finished, he said, you could have heard a pin drop. The premiere in London is this Tuesday 6th December 2011. There is a lovely coffee table type book called ‘Lost Voices’ which accompanies the film and is available from the charity Invest in M.E. However, despite the good turn-out, he said, there were many people invited who did not come – a sign of how the illness is currently viewed by many as mainly psychological.

Dr Gibson has faith in science. He believes that science is the way forward – proper scientific medical research into the causes of M.E.  should be the priority. He touched on his previous work with breast cancer, saying how crucial research had been into this condition and how outcomes had favourably altered due to the research done. He hoped the same could be done for M.E. To this end, Dr Gibson is working with Invest in M.E. and the university in Norwich to try to set up a Centre of Excellence for M.E. The target figure required for this is £100,000. They have raised £25,000 so far. There is a virologist and an immunologist prepared to give their time and names to this, as well as a consultant who will travel from London once a month to see patients. It is envisaged that the cohort of patients would be from the local area which was previously covered by the consultant Dr Mitchell.

Being an ex-M.P., Dr Gibson is well-used to and known in UK political life and he is also acquainted with the medical politics of M.E.  Dr Gibson joked that until M.E. is given a spot on Eastenders or a similiar ‘soap’, the illness would remain largely misunderstood! He acknowledged the disappointing state of current relationships between scientists regarding M.E. and again stressed that it will only be through thorough and technologically advanced scientific research that a breakthrough will happen. He acknowledged that the XMRV research looked ‘off the table’ as it had not been replicated. He is really hoping that the University of East Anglia will be at the forefront of new research and that it would put East Anglia ‘on the map’ internationally as far as M.E. is concerned. He is full of hope that science will come through for M.E. in the same way it has for cancer.

I’m glad I went to the talk. Dr Gibson seems genuinely concerned for people suffering from M.E. and the impact it has on families and communities. I hope he and others succeed to set up this Centre and in years to come maybe East Anglia will be a centre of M.E. medical effort for the quarter of a million sufferers with the condition here in the UK.