By SUSAN DONALDSON 16. Oktober 2010
Retrovirus found in CFS patients could lead to therapies
"Chronic Fatigue Outbreak Dismissed by CDC
The CDC dismissed the epidemic at the time, even though the patients were infected with several viruses, and suggested these were psychiatric problems, according to Hillary Johnson, the author of "Osler's Web: Inside the Labyrinth of the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Epidemic."
The name was coined in 1987 and "functioned as kind of a social punishment," Johnson said in an op-ed piece for The New York Times. CFS, which now carries the scientific name X-associated neuroimmune disease, is associated with a high suicide rate.
In 1991, Dr. Elaine DeFreitas, a virologist at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia, found retroviral DNA in 80 percent of 30 her patients with chronic fatigue. Some of them also had rare forms of cancer.
The CDC tried to replicate her efforts, but ended research prematurely and later criticized her work. The CDC acknowledged in 1999 that it had diverted millions of dollars allocated by Congress for CFS to other programs.
But at about the same time in the 1990s, University of Miami researcher Dr. Nancy Klimas pioneered lymph node extraction therapies for what was then called chronic immune activation syndrome.
Now, drug companies are taking an interest in her work treating eight patients with reverse transcriptase inhibitors, antiretroviral drugs similar to those used today in HIV/AIDS patients.
"They went from very ill to much, much improved," said Klimas, who now directs the Gulf War Illness and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Clinic at the Miami Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
One company that hopes to find new therapies with Klimas is Ohio-based Neo Probe, which explores activated cellular therapy technology to treat cancer, as well as viral and autoimmune diseases.
According to Frederick Cope, vice-president for pharmaceutical research and clinical development, the one "lingering question" is whether ..."