Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Update

Unexplained, persistent malaise, widespread muscle and joint pain, headaches, mental and physical exhaustion. Restless and un-refreshing sleep. Inability to focus, think and concentrate effectively.

These are a few of the more common symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, recognized and internationally classified under G93.3 (ICD-10) and 780.71 (ICD-9).

In this month’s Discovery Magazine, the research of two Norwegian oncologists in the field of chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome was reviewed. The scientists are focusing on a component of the body’s immune system, B-cells, as playing a significant role in the progression of chronic fatigue.

B-cells play an important role in the body’s immunity; B-cells generate antibodies, which help direct the body’s immune system to fend off invaders. Unfortunately when something goes awry, B-cells generate antibodies that attack healthy tissue, so-called auto-antibodies.

In their study, the scientists treated one group with rituximab, a drug that selectively depletes B-cells, and another group with a placebo. After 1 year of therapy 66% of the rituximab group significantly improved, whereas 13% of the placebo group improved.

Unfortunately, even in the cases of positive response, the initial improvement was slow and once the therapy was halted, in most cases the chronic fatigue returned, and the patients had to be re-treated.

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