Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Groundbreaking EBV Research Sheds Light on ME/CFS

Cause for Celebration!
A new scientific research paper was just published in Nature Genetics Journal that could be the breakthrough that ME/CFS patients have been waiting for in pointing the way to better understanding - and treating - our complicated disease. The study was focused on better understanding the unique behavior of the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV), the virus that causes mononucleosis/glandular fever and that is a factor in many ME/CFS patients' illnesses.

The paper itself is complicated, but journalist and ME/CFS patient Cort Johnson has, as always, done a great job of explaining the study in layman's terms in this article on the Simmaron Research site (an organization devoted to ME/CFS research). Click the link to read Cort's excellent summary of this research and what it might mean for ME/CFS patients.

I'll just summarize a few key points and leave the full explanation to the article.

First, there are some things that researchers already know about EBV's role in ME/CFS (some of this has been known for 20+ years):
  • EBV is one of about a dozen known infectious triggers for ME/CFS - that means that roughly 10% of the people who get mono/glandular fever (or one of the other known triggers) goes on to develop ME/CFS.
  • EBV is a unique kind of virus (in the herpes family) that remains in your body forever once you've had it. For most healthy people, it remains dormant or inactive but can be seen in blood tests in over 90% of adults.
  • Many ME/CFS patients' bloodwork shows that EBV has been reactivated in their bodies, even if they had mono decades ago. For instance, I had mono at age 13 but showed EBV reactivation after getting ME/CFS in my late 30's and 40's.
Researchers also knew that EBV has been implicated in many other immune disorders besides ME/CFS, including lupus and MS and other autoimmune diseases. This was news to me.

The excitement from this study is because it finally - for the first time - found out HOW exactly EBV is able to trigger immune disorders later in life, sometimes decades after it entered the body. In defining the mechanism of EBV's ability to reactivate and cause immune changes, this study has opened the door to all kinds of future research (and hopefully, treatments) on a wide range of diseases, including ME/CFS.

This is HUGE. Though experts understand some things about ME/CFS, the mechanism behind how it starts and continues has been a mystery - this new study provides a key that may lead to unlocking that mystery.

Even better news? Because SO MANY different and debilitating diseases have been implicated in EBV research, there will be plenty of interest - and funding - for further research into this promising area.

What can you do now?

This blog post explains all about the immune dysfunction at the heart of ME/CFS, including treatments that will help to improve your immune function (all those listed are simple, cheap, and easily accessible) and treating underlying infections, like EBV. That blog post also includes our own experiences in treating EBV and HHV-6, tick infections, and yeast overgrowth. Most people with ME/CFS have some sort of infections behind the scenes that either triggered their ME/CFS to start or are reactivated, and treating them often brings dramatic improvements. In fact, patients who say that no treatments seem to help them almost always discover there are underlying infections present. Once those are treated, then those patients often improve significantly...and then other treatments will also work better.

To help your doctor understand the need for testing, diagnosing, and treating underlying infections, share these resources with him/her:
Exciting news and hope for better times ahead!

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