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A New Therapy for CFS

rned about the unusual elevations in antibody levels as well as the swelling of her lymph nodes, Montoya decided to prescribe valganciclovir. "I thought by giving an antiviral that was effective against herpes viruses for a relatively long period of time, perhaps we could impact somehow the inflammation that she had in her lymph nodes," said Montoya.

Within four weeks, the patient's lymph nodes began shrinking. Six weeks later she phoned Montoya from her home in South America, describing how she was now exercising, bicycling and going back to work at the company she ran before her illness. "We were really shocked by this," recalled Montoya.

Of the two dozen patients Montoya and Kogelnik have since treated, the 20 that responded all had developed CFS after an initial flu like illness, while the non-responders had suffered no initial flu.

Some of the patients take the drug for more than six months, such as Michael Manson, whose battle with CFS has lasted more than 18 years. The former triathlete was stricken with a viral infection a year after his marriage. After trying unsuccessfully to overcome what he thought were lingering effects of the flu, he had no choice but to drastically curtail all his activities and eventually stop working.

During his longest period of extreme fatigue, 13 1/2 weeks, Manson said, "My wife literally thought I was passing away. I could hear the emotion in her voice as she tried to wake me, but I couldn't wake up to console her. That was just maddening."

Now in his seventh month of treatment, Manson is able to go backpacking with his children with no ill after-effects. Prior to starting the treatment, Manson's three children, ages 9 to 14, had never seen him healthy.

Montoya and Kogelnik emphasized that even if their new clinical trial validates the use of valganciclovir in treating some CFS patients, the drug may not be effective in all cases. In fact, the trial will ass
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