Entries in Autoimmune Disease (1)


Chronic Fatigue Study Supports Autoimmune Theory

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(BERGEN, Norway) -- A new study supports the theory that chronic fatigue syndrome is an autoimmune disease, offering patients with the controversial condition new hope for a cure.

Two injections of the cancer drug Rituximab, which suppresses the immune system, relieved chronic fatigue symptoms in 10 of 15 patients several months later, according to a small Norwegian clinical trial. The drug works by depleting the body's B-cells, lymphocytes that release antibodies important for fighting infections. It has also been shown to relieve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, another autoimmune disease.

The study suggests antibodies might be misguidedly attacking patients' own tissues in chronic fatigue syndrome, and that the delayed relief from Rituximab is linked to the "gradual elimination of autoantibodies," Øystein Fluge of Haukeland University Hospital in Bergen, Norway, and colleagues wrote in the journal PLoS One.

The trial stemmed from a fluky finding: A patient taking Rituximab for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma experienced an unexpected decrease in chronic fatigue symptoms. The researchers have now launched a phase 2 clinical trial that will incorporate "maintenance" Rituximab injections three to 15 months after the initial treatment.

The autoimmune theory of chronic fatigue syndrome was bolstered by a 2009 study that linked the condition to a virus called XMRV. But the study was knocked down last month when nine independent labs failed to replicate the findings, leaving chronic fatigue patients -- many of whom battle skepticism about their condition -- still searching for answers.

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