Chronic Fatigue Patients: No Longer Fakes?

Now, drug companies are taking an interest in her work treating eight patients with reverse transcriptase inhibitors, antiretroviral drugs similar to those used today in HIV/AIDS patients.

"They went from very ill to much, much improved," said Klimas, who now directs the Gulf War Illness and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Clinic at the Miami Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

One company that hopes to find new therapies with Klimas is Ohio-based Neo Probe, which explores activated cellular therapy technology to treat cancer, as well as viral and autoimmune diseases.

According to Frederick Cope, vice-president for pharmaceutical research and clinical development, the one "lingering question" is whether Klimas' sequencing matches those done in the Reno research.

"I wouldn't necessarily assume that it is," Cope said.

Another is getting more information on the long-term effect of this therapy, "not only that is safe, but that it is effective."

But Klimas said, "It's exciting to be excited. It's been a tough field to be in. Like Rodney Dangerfield, we don't get no respect."

The research also may bring new insight into other diseases like Gulf War illness, autism and even schizophrenia.

Klimas understands the urgency in finding vaccines and treatments.

"I take care of HIV patients all day and chronic fatigue patients another day," she said. "Between the two, the CFS ones are the more miserable. Most of my HIV patients are hale and hearty. My CFS patients cannot even participate in the care of their own families."

But no one is more excited than the CFS patients themselves.

"The news completely changed my life," said Solomon. "There's a skip in my walk because, for 20 years, even though no doctor ever discounted me, it's been a real burden and embarrassment. It means there is hope."

"[Chronic fatigue syndrome] doesn't kill you like HIV/AIDS did before treatments, but it really does limit you. You have a very small life," she said. "Now we can focus on strategies and maybe I can get my life back before I am dead."

Click here for more information on the Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome Association of America.

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