Monday, November 02, 2009

NIH hearings on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

The NIH hearings were prompted by a 2009 study published in Science that linked Chronic Fatigue Syndrome with a retrovirus (XMRV), which is a virus that encorporates itself into the host's genome. Probably the most famous retrovirus is HIV, which is a similar virus, but certainly not the same as XMRV. About 2/3 of CFS patients were infected with the virus, compared to about 3% of the control population.

It is important, I think, to note that CFS has been linked with viruses in the past that were later found to be by-products of the disease (CFS causes immune dysfunction) rather than being the cause, so there needs to be more research done before we jump to any conclusions. However, one of the characteristics of CFS is a sudden onset with flu-like symptoms, and that indicates a viral cause. And the fatigue associated with CFS has been described as similar to late stage AIDS, which makes a retrovirus seem somewhat likely. I do hope this virus is the cause, because until the cause is known it will be difficult to find a cure.

This is an important topic for my family, as my mom and aunt both have the disease. My mom's case is mild, for which we are all grateful, but my Aunt's case is much more severe. My aunt is a leader of her local support group and was possibly one of the subjects of the study (she thinks she might have been).

The most interesting video to the layman is this one, but if you're interested in the details of the virus and transmission, watch all of the videos here. The second day hearings aren't up yet. They deal with the blood supply, whether CFS can be transmitted via blood transfusion, etc.

I also thought it was fascinating the link he made in this video between retroviruses and MS, Autism, and Fibromyalgia. Clearly there is much more work to be done in this field!

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  • Sherry

    Wow, that WAS a cool video about possible links between all of those diseases. I do hope more support for the research continues.