Help may finally be at hand for sufferers of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) thanks to a group of British researchers who have found abnormalities in the white blood cells of the afflicted.

If the early results are borne out by wider research — and initial indications are that they will be — it could lead not only to a blood test for the condition but possibly a drug to treat it, New Scientist magazine reported on Wednesday.

“We have shown that a significant part of the pathogenesis resides in the white blood cells and in their activity,” team leader Jonathan Kerr told the magazine.

“It will open the door to development of pharmacological interventions,” he added.

It will be welcome news to CFS sufferers whose symptoms of acute fatigue, headaches, disrupted sleep patterns and an inability to think clearly are often dismissed as being all in the mind.

Kerr’s team, which is moving to St George’s Hospital at the University of London, found that a group of genes in the white blood cells of CFS sufferers were up to four times more active than those without the affliction while one was less active.

“The involvement of such genes does seem to fit with the fact that these patients lack energy and suffer from fatigue,” Kerr said.

It is unclear how widespread CFS is generally, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on its web site that it is estimated that as many as 500,000 people in the United States alone are suffering from a CFS-like condition.

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