In June 2009, Prof. dr. Kenny De Meirleir and Chris Roelant announced to the world a self-test for CFS, based on the amount of H2S in the urine of patients. Fast forward to February 2012, almost 3 years later, and a paper on a self-test for CFS/ME was published in the Journal of Medical Laboratory and Diagnosis Vol. 3(1): “Self-test monitoring of the Th1/Th2 balance in health and disease with special emphasis on chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis” by Chris Roelant and Kenny De Meirleir. At last.
Hold on, this is about a different test. The first test was based on the amount of H2S (a foul smelling, poisonous gas) and the second one on the balance of Th1/Th2 (T-helper cells, white blood cells) in the urine of patients. What happened to the thousands of patients (including me) who took the first test repeatedly and paid for them? Was it all for nothing? A waste of money? And what about this new test? Is it any better? I decided to have a good look at this paper:
- A self test?
To determine whether you have CFS/ME, ulcerative colitis (an inflammatory bowel disease), or autism via this test you will need a spectrophotometer. So much for the self-testing. (See table 1 on page 4 in the article)
- For CFS/ME?
This test can be used for “the detection, diagnosis and/or monitoring of inflammatory, infectious and/or chronic immune diseases, such as infectious diseases (including viral, bacterial, prion-related infectious disease), cancers, mental disorders, autism, immunological disorders (including auto-immune disease, rheumatoid arthritis and the like), nervous system disorders, disorders of the gut, defective wound healing processes, poisoning (with heavy metals, pesticides and the like), unexplained syndromes, age-related processes, biological clock related processes and diseases with unknown etiology such as fibromyalgia, CFS/ME and the like.”
So, if you test positive you either are pregnant, are jet lagged, have aged, have CFS/ME, have autism, have a mental disorder, … or have an unknown disease! Isn’t a test that proves everything, a test that proves nothing?
- What is CFS/ME?
There are a couple of definitions for ME, there is one for ME/CFS, and there a dozen or so for CFS. The most used criteria are the Fukuda criteria for CFS. De Meirleir is co-author of the Canadian Consensus Criteria for ME/CFS and co-author of the International Consensus Criteria for ME. Why would De Meirleir, of all people, use the undefined CFS/ME which is mostly used by psychiatrists?
- Reuse of photos from previous test
Below you will find the photos of the first (H2S) (from leaflet [pdf]) and second (Th1/Th2) (from article) test. As you will probably notice, the photos that are used are identical. Notice the label on the container, the position of the second recipient and the position of the fingers, the shadows and the creases in the gloves. This means that the authors could not be bothered to take new photos for their publication in the Journal of Medical Laboratory and Diagnosis. According to the article the discolouration is caused by the amount of Th2 in the urine, but the photos show discolouration caused by the amount of H2S in the urine. Don’t get me wrong, I am an environmentalist and I am all for reuse, but this is inappropriate.
- Journal of Medical Laboratory and Diagnosis
I already had quite some misgivings about this paper and then I had a look at the journal. It is a very young journal; in 2010, 2 issues were published totalling 4 papers, in 2011, 5 issues were published totalling 10 articles, and in 2012, only 1 issue has been published so far. The headquarters are in Nigeria and Kenya. The first things that come to mind with Kenya are safaris and with Nigeria, oil-spills and scams. I was unable to find an impact factor for this journal, but lucky for me, Laika, Alan Dove and Jeffrey Beall had already written about journals like this one and their publishers. They are called predatory, open-access publishers. The description for Academic Journals, publisher of the Journal of Medical Laboratory and Diagnosis, by Jeffrey Beall:
This bogus, Nigeria-based publisher has been around for years, and continues to increase its journal fleet of over one hundred titles from all areas of study. Seeking legitimacy, it falsely associates itself with authentic organisations and conferences.
I do not understand why the authors went to the trouble of getting this paper published. The test only proves that there is a Th1/Th2 imbalance, whatever that means. How come 2 experienced researchers (even if you exclude ME/CFS), co-founders of companies, and patent-holders submitted a paper to a bogus journal? Were they swindled out of $650, the price to get an article published in the journal? Were they in need of a publication to secure further funding or support a patent application and would no other journal accept their paper?
In my opinion this paper should not be added to the list of 5000 biomedical papers which prove that this is a physical disease.
According to Kenny De Meirleir a positive H2S test proved that you didn’t have a mental disorder. However, testing positive with the new Th1/Th2 test might prove you have exactly that.
PS: The list with 5000 papers that prove that this a physical disease is an urban myth, but you already knew that. Right?
|The scientist is not a person who gives the right answers,
he’s one who asks the right questions.
- ProHealth 06/01/2009: Dr. Kenny De Meirleir Announces He has Revealed the True Nature of ME/CFS (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) in London Press Conference titled ‘ME: End of an Era of Medical Negation’
- Face of Flanders Today 06/10/2009: A doctor at VUB has developed a test to prove that chronic fatigue syndrome is a physical disease
- Journal of Medical Laboratory and Diagnosis
- JMLD – ‘ Self-test monitoring of the Th1/Th2 balance in health and disease with special emphasis on chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis’ by Chris Roelant and Kenny De Meirleir
- Laika – Jeffrey Beall’s List of Predatory, Open-Access Publishers, 2012 Edition
- Alan Dove – From the Inbox: Journal Spam
- Jeffrey Beall – Beall’s List of Predatory, Open-Access Publishers