Human Genome Project Pioneer Hopes To Cure Son’s Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

David R. Hillyard is the lead geneticist of a study that invented the technology of the Human Genome Project. Years after its institution, he is hopeful that his skill in the field may shed light on finding a cure for his son’s chronic fatigue syndrome, otherwise known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME/CFS).

Last Sunday marked the ME/CFS International Awareness Day. Doctors have not yet found a cure for the condition, but Hillyard hopes to uncover a molecular basis that can aid in the development of a cure for his son Whitney Hillyard, who is suffering from the disease, reported CNN. He has recruited accomplished researchers to help him find a molecular basis in developing a cure for ME/CFS.

His team has developed inventions such as the “nanoneedle,” which tests patient’s blood to find a single biomarker. Their study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. The test identifies a specific molecular abnormality that is distinct among ME/CFS patients.

If Hillyard and his team would be able to find a biomarker, it could aid in the creation of a drug for the disease. The discovery would help pharmaceutical companies in determining the root cause of ME/CFS and create a medicine that would treat it.

So far, his team succeeded in establishing that patients with the condition respond to stress that develops due to salt and is distinct from the stress healthy people experience. Hillyard is hoping that they may find a cheaper alternative clinical test that would allow them to identify ME/CFS more efficiently. They are also exploring measures in which they may develop a technology that prevents it.

Hllyard is from Stanford University and he worked for decades in the schools’ biochemistry and genetics department. There, he developed the technology used in the Human Genome Project. His wife Dafoe Hillyard worked as a child psychologist at the same school, too. Since their son was diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis, however, they stopped working to properly care for him.