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Learning CFS: the Lerner Antiviral Treatment Trial Succeeds

Discussion in 'Phoenix Rising Articles' started by Phoenix Rising Team, May 24, 2010.

  1. Dolphin

    Dolphin Senior Member

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    (Not on the Lerner study)

    Don't know if this is of any interest to you. It's about the only biomedical study ever done in the Rep. of Ireland (the small adrenal glands is sometimes said to be from a hospital a few miles away from me in Dublin but I'm 98% it was done in England - the radiologist or radiographer is from where the authors used to work but by the time the work was published, the corresponding author had moved back to Ireland). We do try to do our bit in Ireland by raising money for research.

    It was a poster at the Belgium CFS conference in 1995. You won't find it on PubMed.
  2. Dolphin

    Dolphin Senior Member

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    One person claimed it. I don't recall seeing it in studies when they were listing exclusions (although I don't swear it has never been there as my eyes can glaze over occasionally but there have certainly been many studies done using the Fukuda where they listed the exclusions and it wasn't there).
  3. anncavan

    anncavan

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    Great observation @Ill since 1989 - I've copied and pasted this and emailed it to Dr. Lerner and his team. I'll see what information I can gather from them and will report back.
  4. Dolphin

    Dolphin Senior Member

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    Full paper now at: http://www.imet.ie/imet_documents/Impaired CV responses to standing in CFS.pdf
  5. Cort

    Cort Phoenix Rising Founder

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    That is absolutely not true. In fact Dannybex I think it was posted material from the Fukuda definition specifically stating that EBV and herpesvirus infection were allowed.
  6. Dolphin

    Dolphin Senior Member

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    Just to be clear, you're not disagreeing with me, you're disagreeing with the suggestion that evidence of EBV is an exclusion.
  7. Hope123

    Hope123 Senior Member

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    While I applaud the efforts of Dr. Lerner and his team of volunteers, I found this paper to be very difficult to read and interpret. Much of the analysis was confusing and in some parts extraneous.

    1. At its core, it is a case series of 142 patients and their treatment over time, rather than a clinical trial. There isn't a group really to compare people with as all were treated and the ones who stopped treatment weren't followed. In a trial, the high drop-out rate would be a concern -- when I initially read the paper, I thought everyone was followed for the full-time but it turns out many by week 18, about 30% of the initial 106 in group A had already dropped out in Table 3. We don't know what happened to these people. To be fair, the writers did default them to being "non-responders" which is acceptable.

    2. Putting aside point 1, we can still get use the info on the people who were treated. I'm not convinced that people returned to "normal" or "near normal" life. From the article: " An EIPS of 0–5 is diagnostic of CFS. At EIPS values 6–10, patients no longer have CFS." At EIPS of 6, working 40 hours a week in a sedentary job, light limited housekeeping and social activities, with naps. Or at 7, without naps, does not strike me as a normal or near-normal life. I can appreciate improvement but don't call it normal. To me, near-normal is when you can do everything you want short of strenuous physical labor or exercise. Did people return to a similar job as the one they were doing before illness or did they need to downshift (i.e. they had no choice)? Also, it says that people had cognitive improvement but there is neither subjective nor objective evidence of this in the paper, other than the overall EIPS score (which doesn't talk about cognitive effects). Where is the immunologic data? Is this considered the same as the infectious disease measures?

    3. In terms of the ID issues, we get a measure of titers (1:160) for HHV-6 but we don't get titer numbers for the other herpesviruses. It would be useful to know, even if those tests are based on Dr. Lerner's own lab tests. Also, Gerwyn's point about EBV has a point. Most people with positive EBV IgM, regardless of titers, would be considered under traditional medical standards to have an "active" or "very recent" EBV infection. IgM normally goes away pretty quickly after EBV mono. Now, it's true that maybe prior docs did not pay attention to IgM, didn't treat, or didn't test for it. My concern is how common is it for people with CFS to have positive IgMs (not IgG)? My impression, at least from people who have reported their results, is that it is not. Still interesting as these folks should get treated but just to put it into context.

    4. Figure 3 is somewhat confusing in that the EIPS for overall Group A patients is not 106. The number of group A patients declines over time and their make-up varies over time. For example, randomly taking week 48 and looking at table 3, there were 30 total group A and data for 28 responders. To my eye, this means there is only data on 2 (30-28) non-responders so the comparison is with a very small number. Most of the group A is made up heavily of responders as time goes on so why have the comparison this way?

    Also what is with the missing lower standard deviation lines in Figure 3? I take it the blue point is the mean and there is an upper SD line but no lower?

    Perhaps all this sounds harsh and I am grateful that the group published the data they did but I don't think that my questions are any different from what they would have received from some other journal. I'd appreciate any responses and hope that my questions will help them in the future.

    3.
  8. Dolphin

    Dolphin Senior Member

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  9. Hope123

    Hope123 Senior Member

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    Thanks. Too tired to explain stuff.

    Come to think of it, it would have been interesting to get the EIPS scores of the non-responders over time (even if there were only a few at later time points). This would have been interesting stuff to chart in Figure 3.
  10. Hope123

    Hope123 Senior Member

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  11. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    Hi

    The problem that Cheney faces is that he is almost unpublishable. This is part of the prejudice about ME and CFS: since CFS doesn't exist then anyone who is making claims is a quack, and if they keep doing so they are a serial quack, and are best ignored. I think this was discussed in connection with Cheney in Oslers Web.

    This is changing, and I hope much more research from Cheney and other marginalized doctors and researchers will get the attention it deserves in the future.

    Bye
    Alex

  12. Dolphin

    Dolphin Senior Member

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    The Journal of CFS gave an outlet if somebody couldn't get an article published.

    Now there is the Bulletin of the IACFS/ME.
  13. Dolphin

    Dolphin Senior Member

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    Here's a mention of EBV in the Fukuda definition:

    http://www.annals.org/content/121/12/953.full

    In clinical practice, no additional tests, including laboratory tests and neuroimaging studies, can be recommended for the specific purpose of diagnosing the chronic fatigue syndrome. Tests should be directed toward confirming or excluding other etiologic possibilities. Examples of specific tests that do not confirm or exclude the diagnosis of the chronic fatigue syndrome include serologic tests for Epstein-Barr virus, retroviruses, human herpesvirus 6, enteroviruses, and Candida albicans; tests of immunologic function, including cell population and function studies; and imaging studies, including magnetic resonance imaging scans and radionuclide scans (such as single-photon emission computed tomography and posi-tron emission tomography) of the head.
  14. Dolphin

    Dolphin Senior Member

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    Paul Cheney was just one example. Byron Hyde is another who hasn't published much - since the early/mid 90s, possibly only twice (Isoprinosine papers - and there were lots of authors on that - and the SPECT scan and thyroid cancer paper). And he's got his own research charity, the Nightingale Research Foundation.
  15. Hope123

    Hope123 Senior Member

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  16. Cort

    Cort Phoenix Rising Founder

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    I think Cheney could get published in a second in Medical Hypotheses. Marian Lemle, a mother with no research background, got an article on CFS published there and they publish some wild stuff. He's just not choosing to do it. He was the lead speaker of a big non CFS conference a couple of years ago. He may be controversial but he does have some standing - he could find a way. He probably couldn't get published in a reputable journal - unless he had a really rigorous, buttoned down, all bases covered paper, but he could get published somewhere.
  17. Cort

    Cort Phoenix Rising Founder

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    I think its good to point out the fairly high drop out rate - something I didn't really get upon reading the paper. I agree that the EIPS is not normal health or near normal health. What I was struck by was the average increase of two points or more on the EIPS scale.

    With regard to the IgM data my understanding is that he is looking for IgM levels of early proteins (ie non-structural proteins) produced by EBV. He believes the EBV infection is a kind of active but incomplete infection; that is, EBV is producing the non-structural components of the virus but not the structural ones. Dr. Lerner would posit, I believe, that it would be quite uncommon for CFS patients to show high IgM levels to the proteins on the viral coat but common for them to show high Igm levels to proteins produced earlier in the life cycle of the virus. He believes that most physicians simply don't test for early antigens. I agree that it would have been very helpful to get antibody levels from the other viruses in the other paper and I'm not sure why they weren't there.
  18. Cort

    Cort Phoenix Rising Founder

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    I've just been talking to a researcher and he pointed out several issues with the paper. One, is as Gerwyn said, you cannot divine cause and effect from a paper like this. Its absolutely imperative that a placebo-controlled study be done before you can say anything, anything at all really, about cause and effect.

    This is a very stringent area because it involves making policy - it involves having institutions and government agencies - determine how how to treat CFS (or any other type of) patients. Its very difficult for paper a on CFS treatment (or treatment of any other diseases) to make any difference in the research world at large unless its placebo-controlled. In the research world you cannot say that CFS is caused by x or y factor if you con't use a placebo controlled group because you have to have one group that has the factor and gets better and one group that doesn't have the factor and doesn't get better and this paper didn't do that. That paper has not come forth yet.

    Another issue was the lack of data on side effects. In order to balance cost and benefit researchers have to know how many people had side effects, what they were and how severe they were. These antiviral drugs has statistically been shown to produce certain level of side effects even in the patients they are helping. Information on side effects is another critical bit of data that the medical community needs to know in order to assess the effectiveness of a treatment.

    Gerwyn also had a point about the journal the study was published in; my 'source' (who wishes to remain anonymous and who has CFS) does not believe there is a bias against getting CFS papers published - he believes good journals would love to publish groundbreaking work on CFS - that's the type of thing they live for - but that really good papers with really significant findings are rare. THe XMRV paper was a notable exception. Really good, rigorous papers, he felt, should be able to find their way to really good journals. he fact that this paper was not in a significant journal was not a strong point.

    This doesn't mean that Dr. Lerner is wrong in his conclusions at all - it simply means that for the research community to take note of them much more rigorous studies need to be done - as he notes in the interview that he wishes to see done.

    Doing a really rigorous study is very difficult and expensive but those studies are important because they do get noticed by the research community and they generally get built upon.

    In light of the difficulty of us - laymen - reading and understanding scientific papers we're going to work on a "how to read a scientific paper' paper so that we can assess the strengths research papers. Anyone who wants to help out please PM or email me at phoenixcfs@gmail.com
  19. Dolphin

    Dolphin Senior Member

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    Thanks Cort - interesting
    There may need to be more information.
    But for anyone who didn't read the paper we were given:
    Well, generally, I've heard it said that it's hard to get in two big UK journals, the BMJ and the Lancet.

    "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Editorial Bias in the British Medical Journal" by Goudsmit EM,
    Stouten B. can be read at: http://freespace.virgin.net/david.axford/JCFS.pdf
    I think there has been little change with the BMJ since then.

    She did one on the Lancet it also.
    Editorial bias in the Lancethttp://freespace.virgin.net/david.axford/lanbias1.htm

    I think there may also be problems with the big, big medical journals in the US.
    But one can probably get into the "medium" ones? Has this one got an impact factor?

    Of course, if anyone wants to link to articles that already exist, that could be useful also.
  20. charityfundraiser

    charityfundraiser Senior Member

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    Take Table 3, copy/paste it into a spreadsheet. It is the data for Group A total and Group A responders.
    Use formulas to calculate N and EIPS (mean) for Group A non-responders. For N, that would be Group A total minus Group A responders. You can also calculate the mean EIPS.

    You get the Group A non-responder group of N=27 whose mean EIPS goes from 3.77 at time=0 (N=27) to 6.45 at time=24 (6 years) (N=1). Wow, it "looks" like the non-responders improved their EIPS score even more than the responders!! But "responder" is defined as a patient with at least a change of 1 on the EIPS and "non-responder" as less than a change of 1 on the EIPS. So the non-responders after 6 years supposedly "look" like they improved their EIPS from 3.77 to 6.45, which is an increase of 2.68 points, but they're defined as patients who improved less than 1 point. Does this look like it makes absolutely no sense?! Well, it makes sense that it doesn't make sense because it's totally not legit to compare the EIPS over time of subsets of different N patients dropping out over time. Most of that increase in EIPS score is from drop outs to 5% of the original patient base. Which interestingly happens to look like the statistic I've seen that about 5% of CFS patients get well.

    Of course, please feel free to point out if I've made any errors.

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