Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Times April 23, 2013: Scientists may have solved mystery of ME

Source: Ed Gallois
Hannah Devlin Science Editor Last updated at 12:01AM, April 23 2013

Scientists have found compelling new evidence for an underlying biological cause for the constant fatigue suffered by ME patients. The study revealed abnormalities in the muscle cells people suffering from ME which are likely to contribute to feelings of tiredness and the inability to cope with sustained physical activity that many experience.

An analysis of muscle biopsies suggested that the cells had undergone substantial changes making them less able to cope with exertion.

The finding shows ME leads to a cascade of physical changes right down to the cellular level

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Spanish HIV Experts Find a bunch of Immune Abnormalities in ME/CFS

Dr Blanco and his colleagues had taken a look at ME/CFS in 2010 and spotted a bunch of problems in the immune system. These guys really know their stuff when it comes to immunology and they knew that they were on to something. Here’s what Dr Blanco had to say about it:
“Our preliminary data showed alterations in all lymphocyte subsets analyzed (B, T and NK). However, these preliminary data were generated from patients recruited in one CFS unit. To avoid any bias, we expanded our study by recruiting patients from a different clinical center.

Read more>>

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Discovermagazine April 2013: Are B-Cells to Blame for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?


Are B-Cells to Blame for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

The ravages of chronic fatigue syndrome may be the result of an overlooked but essential part of the body's own immune system.

By Jill Neimark|Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Myalgic encephalomyelitis, or chronic fatigue syndrome, is a perplexing disorder that may seem more like a voodoo hex than an illness. Patients might lie bedridden in dark rooms, in chronic pain, often with multiple neurological symptoms like muscle pain, sweating and dizziness. 
Doctors have targeted various causes, from herpes viruses to retroviruses to depression. But a surprising new explanation suggests that the disorder is an autoimmune disease of the nervous system caused by overactive B-cells, which are normally responsible for churning out pathogen-killing antibodies.
In 2011, two Norwegian oncologists, Oystein Fluge and Olav Mella of Haukeland University Hospital in Bergen, along with colleagues, studied 30 people diagnosed with chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS). Each received either a placebo or a highly specialized chemotherapy drug called rituximab, which rapidly and selectively depletes B-cells. After 12 months, 10 of 15 patients on the drug significantly improved; only two of 15 on the placebo improved. 
This study marks just one more step in a growing body of research focusing on the role of B-cells in autoimmune disease. While they’re essential for helping the body fend off attacks, if something goes awry, B-cells can generate antibodies that attack healthy tissues.
Until recently, T-cells — cells that activate and regulate the molecules responsible for controlling inflammation and immune response — were considered the great orchestrators of immunity. They were also thought to be the main drivers of autoimmune disorders. 
In turn, researchers considered B-cells to be the worker bees taking the T-cells’ orders. “T-cells were in fashion for a long time,” says retired rheumatologist and researcher Jonathan Edwards. “B-cells were just considered boring.” But Edwards was never convinced that T-cells were the alpha and omega of immunity.
B-cell Beginnings
As it turns out, B-cells play a major, and sometimes independent, role in immune function, dancing with T-cells in a fluid and Escher-like loop. For instance, specific anti-T-cell therapies don’t work at all for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and Edwards doesn’t think T-cells explained how the disease persisted. He and his colleagues at University College in London worked for a decade piecing together a hypothesis on the role of B-cells in RA, and they then began to test it. 
In 2004, their landmark study in the New England Journal of Medicine changed how researchers approached RA. Their randomized trial followed 161 patients treated either with a conventional immune-suppressing drug called methotrexate, or with methotrexate plus rituximab, the B-cell killer. More than 40 percent of patients given the drug combination experienced major improvement by the end of 24 weeks, and they sustained that improvement for another 24 weeks. Only 13 percent of those receiving methotrexate alone improved.
“T-cells and B-cells cooperate with each other,” says Edwards, “and we think the B-cells can sometimes make a mistake, create auto-antibodies and fool the T-cells into giving them permission to continue doing so. We deplete the B-cells, the antibodies gradually disappear, and people improve, but eventually the B-cell population rebounds and people need re-treatment.”


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Stand with the Maasai: They’re kicking us off our land to hunt lions‏ Posted: 5 April  2013
We are elders of the Maasai from Tanzania, one of Africa’s oldest tribes. The government has just announced that it plans to kick thousands of our families off our lands so that wealthy tourists can use them to shoot lions and leopards. The evictions are to begin immediately.

Last year, when word first leaked about this plan, almost one million Avaaz members rallied to our aid. Your attention and the storm it created forced the government to deny the plan, and set them back months. But the President has waited for international attention to die down, and now he’s revived his plan to take our land. We need your help again, urgently.

President Kikwete may not care about us, but he has shown he’ll respond to global media and public pressure -- to all of you! We may only have hours. Please stand with us to protect our land, our people and our world’s most majestic animals and tell everyone, before it is too late. This is our last hope.

-- The Maasai community of Ngorongoro District  

The Tanzanian government could evict thousands of Maasai families from their land at any moment! 

sign the petition !!!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The hell of a disease that is incurable, has inadequate therapies, indifferent government attitudes, social stigma and no strong public voice


By Llewellyn King, MARCH 30, 2013:

I am a reporter and my beat is hell. But it is neither the eternal hell of the Bible, nor Tartarus, the ancient Greek underworld, where the gods of mythology locked up their enemies.
The hell I write about is more prosaic: It is here and now. It is the hell of those who live with a disease that is incurable, has inadequate therapies, indifferent government attitudes, social stigma and no strong public voice.

The disease is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), a benign name for a malignant condition. Patients prefer that it be called by its old name, and the one used elsewhere in the world, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME). But they are stuck with CFS because that is what the Centers for Disease Control named it when following investigation of a Nevada outbreak that sickened 300 people in the 1980s.

After more than 50 years in the newspaper trade, I chanced upon CFS – which, in my opinion, is the great under-reported medical story of the times -- through a friend and colleague who had been felled in her prime and has suffered relentlessly for 23 years. For two of those 23 years, she was so sick that she could only lie in a darkened room on a couch, which she sometimes thought was her coffin. Read more>>


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