Researchers have identified distinct subtypes of myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME/CFS - also referred to as chronic fatigue syndrome) and there is renewed hope that treatments are available for this debilitating neurological illness.
One of these researchers is Dr A. Martin Lerner from Michigan, USA who will be revealing his ground breaking data from observations over the last seven years at the forthcoming International ME/CFS Conference 2008 in Westminster, London, on 23rd May.
Dr Lerner's research indicates that specific long-term anti-herpesvirus pharmacokinetic administration of the drug valacyclovir/valganciclovir provides long-term significant benefit to one group of ME/CFS patients. Dr Lerner has identified two specific groups of patients; one with Herpesvirus Illness (EBV, HHV6, HCMV) with no co-infections and another Herpesvirus Illness with co-infections such as Lyme Disease, Babesiosis, Adult Rheumatic Fever and Mycoplasma Pneomoniae Myocarditis. Dr Lerner is the most experienced ME/CFS doctor in the world with long-term experience of treating an identified subset of patients with antivirals and has over twenty years of experience studying ME/CFS. He will be presenting his extensive data at the London conference, organised by the charity Invest in ME.
The theme of the conference is Sub Grouping of and Treatments for ME/CFS and the conference is changing the view that ME/CFS can be treated with a one-size-fits-all approach to treatment which the government and the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) have been advocating until now.
There is growing evidence of different subtypes and viral involvement in ME/CFS and the conference has aroused interest from the Chief Medical Officer and the UK Medical Research Council, both of which will be represented at the conference.
Other speakers at the conference include Dr Jonathan Kerr from St George's University, London who has recently published a study identifying seven different genomic subtypes of ME/CFS and Dr John Chia, an infectious disease specialist from California, USA, who has is investigating antiviral treatments against enteroviruses as his recently published research showed that 135 out of 165 (82%) patients had stomach biopsy results that stained positive for enterovirus antigens compared with 7/ 34 (20%) of controls.
Dr Judy Mikovits, research director from the unique Whittemore Peterson Institute (WPI) in Nevada, USA will also be talking about the institute's future plans for research and will be presenting data on a distinct subgroup of patients that is characterized by a significantly increased incidence of the development of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma (NHL).
Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME/CFS) is defined by the World Health Organisation as a neurological illness (code WHO-ICD-10-G93.3). With an estimated 250,000 sufferers of ME/CFS in the UK alone, of which 60,000 (one quarter of the people) are severely affected, many of them children, the illness is thought to cost the UK economy over £6 billion per year. Little public funding of biomedical research is currently provided by the government. The varying symptoms experienced by many severe ME/CFS sufferers may include: - post-exertional malaise, general chronic weakness of limbs, cognitive problems such as memory loss & concentration difficulties, severe headaches, problems with balance and fine motor control, muscle pain, light sensitivity, vocal/muscular limitations, hypersensitivity, sleep & temperature disturbance, cardiovascular symptoms, digestive disturbances, neurological disturbances. In its most extreme form it can leave sufferers bedridden and can even be fatal.
It is hoped that the conference, bringing to an end ME Awareness Month, will kick-start publicly funded biomedical research into ME/CFS based on a more relevant and scientific approach to diagnosis and treatment of the illness.
Details of the CPD accredited conference may be found at - www.investinme.org