19. October 2011

Hope for CFS/ME patients

The latest medical research to be supported by the Kavli Trust focuses on myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), often called chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).


ME patient Len Loe receives immune modulating therapy with Rituximab at the HUH’s cancer polyclinic. Nurse Helle Øvrebø, Professor Olav Mella and senior consultant Øystein Fluge monitor the treatment.

The charitable trust is backing a project at the cancer department of Haukeland University Hospital (HUH) in Bergen which aims to chart the causes of and possible treatment for the illness.

This work holds out hope for thousands of patients suffering from ME/CFS and their relatives.

Afflicting about 0.2 per cent of Norway’s population, ME is much discussed in the Norwegian press. Sufferers often experience a severe loss of energy and feelings of exhaustion. Many also have pain and disruption to cognitive functions, such as concentration and memory. Permanent loss of functionality and chronic invalidity are also common.

Unfortunately, many sufferers meet little understanding from the community or the health service, reflecting continued ignorance of ME’s causes and the lack of standard treatments.

Surprising improvement

However, treatment of cancer patients at HUH has thrown up surprising results. ME symptoms have declined in people who also had lymphatic cancer. The figures show that 67 per cent of patients receiving active medication showed a clear improvement, as opposed to 13 per cent of those in the control group who were given a saline solution.


Further research aims to identify the causes of ME and to continue development of the concept for treating this condition.The hypothesis is that ME could be an autoimmune illness, in which the body comes under attack from its own immune system (often as a result of other infections).

New clinical studies are underway to investigate how the Rituximab drug should be given to achieve the best possible result through “maintenance” treatment with repeated doses. Research will also seek to see whether this therapy can help the very sickest ME patients.

The Kavli Trust’s support is crucial for the project’s continuation and chances of success.

Read more:
Chronic fatigue syndrome eased by cancer drug (New Scientist)
Norwegian research breakthrough can solve CFS-mystery (TV2.no)
A Drug For ME/CFS? The Rituximab Story (ESME)