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A New Therapy for CFS

A preliminary study suggests that there might be a hope in the offing for some sufferers of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) with a new therapy being tested by researchers// at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Jose Montoya, MD, associate professor of medicine (infectious diseases), and postdoctoral scholar Andreas Kogelnik, MD, PhD, have used the drug valganciclovir - an antiviral often used in treating diseases caused by human herpes viruses - to treat a small number of CFS patients.

The researchers said they treated 25 patients during the last three years, 21 of whom responded with significant improvement that was sustained even after going off the medication at the end of the treatment regimen, which usually lasts six months. The first patient has now been off the drug for almost three years and has had no relapses. A paper describing the first dozen patients Montoya and Kogelnik treated with the drug was published in the December issue of Journal of Clinical Virology.

"This study is small and preliminary, but potentially very important," said Anthony Komaroff, MD, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, who was not involved in the study. "If a randomized trial confirmed the value of this therapy for patients like the ones studied here, it would be an important landmark in the treatment of this illness."

Montoya has received a $1.3 million grant from Roche Pharmaceutical, which manufactures the drug under the brand name Valcyte, to conduct a randomized, placebo-controlled, double blind study set to begin this quarter at Stanford. The study will assess the effectiveness of the drug in treating a subset of CFS patients.

Montoya is speaking about his efforts at the biannual meeting of the International Association for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in Fort Lauderdale on Jan. 11 and 12.

Chronic fatigue syndrome has baffled doctors and researchers for decades, because aside from debili
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