Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Virus link to chronic fatigue gives hope to sufferers seeking a cure

It's a sad commentary on the medical science community that their response to something they did not understand was to say it did not exist. Yet that was the response to chronic fatigue syndrome for a long time -- and still is to some extent. I had the ailment myself once but I have a good immune system so it only lasted a month with me

Scientists have found further links between a virus and chronic fatigue syndrome, a study published this week says.

Researchers from the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration and Harvard Medical School analysed blood samples that had been collected 15 years ago from 37 patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. Of the subjects, 32 - or 86.5 per cent - tested positive for the murine leukaemia virus-related virus, the researchers found. In contrast, tests on 44 healthy blood donors detected evidence of the virus in only three of the subjects, or 6.8 per cent.

While providing new evidence that a virus may play a role in the condition, the researchers said the findings, published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, are nowhere near proving the virus causes the syndrome.

But they are being hailed by advocates for people who suffer from chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome. Kim McCleary, head of the CFIDS Association of America, said the findings were an important step towards developing treatments and dispelling the notion that the condition was psychological.

An estimated 140,000 Australians are believed to suffer from the syndrome, which causes prolonged and severe fatigue. Over the years, many viruses have been unsuccessfully linked to the syndrome. In 2009, Judy Mikovits and colleagues at the Whittemore Peterson Institute in Reno, Nevada, published a paper in the journal Science. That paper reported that many patients appeared to be infected with a little-known virus called the xenotrophic murine leukaemia virus-related virus. But four other groups subsequently failed to duplicate the findings in other patients.

The virus detected in the new study does not appear to be exactly the same one the Reno group found, but it is related.

In addition to detecting evidence of the microbe in a majority of the stored blood samples, the researchers found evidence of the virus in fresh blood samples, indicating the infection persists.

Harvey Alter of the NIH said there were also indications the virus had evolved over time, which is what would be expected from a retrovirus.


Asparagus, garlic and artichokes 'could help fight obesity and diabetes'

Pure guesswork

Eating vegetables such as asparagus and Jerusalem artichokes could hold the key to fighting obesity and diabetes, researchers believe. Scientists are examining whether a diet rich in certain types of fibre can suppress hunger and improve the body’s ability to control blood sugar levels.

Foods such as garlic, chicory, asparagus and artichokes are known as fermentable carbohydrates, which are thought to activate the release of gut hormones that reduce appetite. They also enhance sensitivity to insulin – the hormone produced by the pancreas that allows glucose to enter the body’s cells – thereby leading to better glucose control, it is believed.

The charity Diabetes UK is now funding research into the health benefits of such foods. If proved to be effective, the findings could revolutionise treatments for obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Nicola Guess, a dietitian at Imperial College, London, who is leading the three-year study, said: "By investigating how appetite and blood glucose levels are regulated in people at high risk of Type 2 diabetes, it is hoped that we can find a way to prevent its onset. "If successful, this study will be able to determine whether fermentable carbohydrates could provide the public with an effective and affordable health intervention to reduce an individual's risk of developing diabetes."

There are 2.35 million people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in Britain, and a further half a million sufferers who are unaware that they have the condition. If left untreated, it can lead to complications such as kidney failure, heart disease, stroke and amputation.


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