New treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome

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Dr. Jose Montoya, an associate professor of medicine at Stanford and director of the National Reference Laboratory for Toxoplasmosis at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, has been able to significantly improve the condition of 85 percent of his patients who suffer from the Epstein-Barr virus and human herpes virus 6.

“Our proposal is that the two viruses working together are creating and maintaining the disease,” Montoya said.

Montoya uses a drug called valganciclovir that targets the two viruses, which often occur together in chronic fatigue sufferers.

He first used the drug to treat a South American patient with swollen lymph nodes and very high levels of antibodies for the viruses in 2004, giving her a six-month dosage rather than the typical two weeks. Soon she called Montoya to say her lymph nodes had shrunk and her fatigue was diminishing.

“I then relayed that experience, and 25 patients later we have 21 patients whose lives have completely turned around,” Montoya said.

He noted that because the patients’ conditions initially worsen, he does not believe a placebo effect is at work. He plans to reinforce his results with a larger, carefully controlled study this spring.

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