Dr. A Martin Lerner: Thoughts on XMRV (Updated), Ampligen
In my recent conversation with Dr. A. Martin Lerner, a former chronic fatigue syndrome sufferer who says he used his specialty in infectious diseases to find treatments for himself and others, I asked him about both the XMRV discovery (which was just days old at the time) and also about Ampligen, the proposed chronic fatigue syndrome drug currently awaiting FDA approval.
XMRV is a retrovirus that researchers recently linked to chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS or ME/CFS). Dr. Lerner says that in his patients, he's discovered that 3 viruses are found in nearly everyone with ME/CFS -- Epstein-Barr virus (EPV), human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) and cytomegalovirus (CMV) -- and that some patients also have Lyme disease on top of one or more of those viruses.
At the time of our conversation, Dr. Lerner hadn't yet been able to look over the XMRV data but said he was definitely interested in seeing it. Since then, he's had the opportunity to examine the research for himself, and he has this to say:
"I am delighted with Dr. Mikovitz's findings concerning XMRV in the bloods of CFS patients. The more we understand of the science of CFS the better our care for our patients will be. I look forward to the confirmation of the XMRV findings from another investigator(s) in another laboratory(s).
There is unequivocal evidence that EBV, HCMV and HHV-6 are etiologic in CFS. Illness disappears upon antiviral treatment and CFS patients remain well. If XMRV findings are confirmed, they will coordinate our better understanding for treatment of CFS. We look forward to the science."
On the surface, it might seem like other research -- especially the XMRV finding -- could disprove Dr. Lerner's theories about EBV, HHV-6 and CMV. However, (and these are my words, not his) that's not necessarily true. If the XMRV findings are replicated and nearly everyone with ME/CFS is infected with it, that wouldn't meant that other infectious agents didn't play a role. Could XMRV make people more susceptible to complications/long-term infection by EBV, HHV-6 or CMV? Could EBV, HHV-6 and CMV make us more vulnerable to XMRV infection? These are all areas that researchers could explore in the future.
Dr. Lerner treats his ME/CFS patients with one of two antiviral medications:
I asked him about Ampligen, which many hope will become the first drug ever approved for ME/CFS. "The science behind Ampligen is sound," Dr. Lerner said. He doesn't use it because it has to be given intravenously, which means patients have to come to the office more often, whereas people can take the other two at home.
Dr. Lerner and I also talked a lot about exercise in people with chronic fatigue syndrome, and he has a very interesting take on it. That's coming up soon.
More on Dr. Lerner
- Universal ME/CFS Evaluation Tool: EIPS
- Antiviral Protocol for ME/CFS
- Dr. Lerner's Personal Statement for Patients (on his website)
- The XMRV Discovery Series
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