Friday, March 18, 2005

ME/CFS/CFIDS New Clinical Trial of Procrit

by Lucy Dechene Ph.D

New Clinical Trial of Procrit

The CFS Research Center at the University of Miami is conducting a study funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the NIH.  Barry Hurwitz Ph.D. and Nancy Klimas M.D. are the principal investigators of this study.  The study is investigating a very promising potential treatment for CFIDS.  The study is a placebo-controlled clinical trial in which Procrit is prescribed to the participants for 13 weeks.  Procrit is a drug that has been used for over a decade to treat anemia which is low red blood cell volume.  The drug increases the production of red blood cells, which they have discovered is low in many CFIDS patients.  Because the red blood cell delivers oxygen to the body, it is projected that this treatment may reduce the debilitating fatigue experienced by individuals with CFIDS.  Their web page describes the study and also has links to download the brochure, as well as the electronic forms that they use to determine eligibility (they are looking for South Florida residents).  The web page is:  For more information contact Alex at
(Source: U Miami, CFS Research Center)

Will Nutrients Help Memory Problems?

Bruce Ames, a well-known biochemist who invented the “Ames test” for carcinogens, has been conducting experiments in rats (and now has started human trials) to improve memory in aging beings. He had excellent results in improving memory in rats and has started trials in humans. He is using 200 mg of alpha-lipoic acid and 500 mg acetyl-L-carnitine twice a day. In rats he was able to show that rat-comparable doses lessened oxidant damage to rat brains and improved mitochondrial functioning. Several types of memory improved significantly for the rats. Early results of his human trials seem promising.

(“Free Radical,” Wright. (Discover Oct: 63-67, 2002).)

Fish Oil May Help CFIDS

Recent research conducted by doctors from Imperial College Medical School in London, compared eight patients with CFIDS and eight healthy individuals. It was found that levels of the chemical choline were higher at the back of the brain in healthy individuals than they were at the front. In patients with CFIDS, the choline levels were the same at the back and at the front of the brain. They also found that the ratios of choline and another chemical, creatine, were higher in the back of the brain in CFIDS patients than in controls. Taking fish oil supplements, which are rich in the fatty acid EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) ought to correct the chemical imbalance.

(Source: British Medical Journal Sept. 2002)

New Drug for Female IBS

The FDA recently approved the first drug ever for constipation-predominant IBS. Tegaserod is maleate (Zelnorm) approved for treatment of women only. Makers of the drug compared the effects of tegaserod and placebo in three trials involving 2470 women with IBS. About 14% more tegaserod users than placebo users reported complete or considerable relief for at least two of the first four weeks of use, or reported some relief for all four weeks. Tegaserod is unusual because it is the only drug which reduces bloating, as well improving constipation and pain.

(“FDA OKs Two Drugs for Irritable Bowel Syndrome,” Horwitz. (Health News Oct: 1-2, 2002) and “First Drug for Women with Constipation-Predominant IBS,” Crawford. (JAMA 288 (10): 1225, 2002))

Supplements May Combat Muscle Loss

An amino acid and carbohydrate supplement is being studied to determine its value as a nutritional countermeasure to muscle loss. To study space travel's effect on muscles, Dr. Robert Wolfe of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston enlisted healthy subjects to stay in bed 28 days during a National Space Biomedical Research Institute study.

"One cause of muscle atrophy in space is lack of muscular activity. That's why bed rest is a good model because it minimizes activity, and like astronauts, you lose muscle mass primarily in the legs," said co-investigator Dr. Arny Ferrando, a professor of surgery at UTMB and Shriners Hospital for Children in Galveston. "When muscles are inactive, as they are in space, they don't make new proteins. If muscle breakdown rates are the same, that means you lose muscle."

Researchers are attempting to increase protein synthesis rates with supplements of amino acids. Participants received the supplements three times a day, and researchers compared the protein synthesis/breakdown rates and muscle mass before and after the bed-rest study. This data was compared to results from a control group that received a placebo drink instead of the supplements. "Early results suggest that the amino acid supplement is able to maintain synthesis rates and body mass," Ferrando said.


Spinal Fluid Chemicals Predict FM

Researchers from San Antonio, Texas, found that the neurochemicals from the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) which could best discriminate FM patients from healthy normal controls were:  Substance P (SP), nerve growth factor (NGF), and 5-hydroxyindole acetic acid (5HIAA). The researchers determined that the best discriminant formula for these three neurochemicals was: Log [y/1-y] = -7.156 + 0.359 (SP) + 0.051 [NGF] -0.067 [HIAA].

This formula distinguished FM patients from healthy controls with 90.6% accuracy, an accuracy comparable to that of the ACR's 1990 criteria. The Texas research group noted that the new formula not only provided a new study tool for fibromyalgia research but also served as additional evidence of FM as a clinical disorder with objective neurochemical abnormalities.

(Source: Fibromyalgia Frontiers, Vol. 9, # 4, 2002)

Delayed-type Hypersensitivity in CFIDS

French researchers found delayed-type hypersensitive responses to certain common environmental antigens in almost fifty per cent of patients with CFIDS. Delayed-type responses are T-cell mediated and not Ig-E mediated as in typical allergy and occur 12-48 hours after exposure to the antigen.

(Source: Allerg Immunol (Paris) 34(2): 38-44, 2002)

Hearing Loss Linked to Vicodin

High doses of Vicodin and other painkillers that combine the codeine-like drug hydrocodone with acetaminophen can cause intense tinnitus and hearing loss. Doctors at the House Ear Institute first noticed the link in 1993. They encountered a group of cases with the same constellation of symptoms: ringing in the ears followed by fluctuating hearing loss in alternating ears, and then total hearing loss in both ears. The pills damage the delicate hair cells inside the ear that detect sound vibrations. When the cells are destroyed, the ability to sense sound is lost. Most people who have lost their hearing were taking 20 or more pills a day, but at least one woman was just taking a normal dose. See your doctor immediately if you are taking this type of medication and experiencing hearing problems.

(Source: “A Painkiller’s Quiet Problem,” Marsa. (Health June, 2002: 58-62))


Post a Comment

<< Home