Wednesday, October 19, 2011
The long-awaited Norwegian study on Rituximab and ME was finally published today. This story is here. This is a very big deal. It will be interesting if this is picked up by the mainstream media, and this reality will be a key to determining if ME has reached a higher level in the the consciousness of "Important People". Where are Amy Dockser Marcus and David Tuller when we need them, when there is a real thread or story to be followed? I mean it is not like they didn't know this was coming?
Many who had seen the presentation by the two Norwegian cancer researchers, Drs. Fluge and Mella, at the InvestinME conference in May in London, or had seen the subsequent DVD lecture, knew what was coming - and awaited the official publication with excitement. This is going to open up an entire potential new branch of investigation of ME as an autoimmune illness characterized by immune disregulations. This association, which needs further study, potentially puts ME a step closer to an acquired immune deficiency. Another door has been opened into research and treatment - but many new questions can now be asked.
These two Norwegian cancer researchers stumbled upon the association of Rituximab and ME by serendipity. However they immediately realized they had struck upon something interesting, and aggressively pursued a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial with thirty patients. While the trial was small, the results were impressive.
A larger trial is underway, and we can be assured that these two researchers will continue to pursue and investigate this treatment - even though it is a side-light to their main cancer work. Both these researchers give the impression of being extremely serious in their studies - and they make no false claims. They are both cautious and optimistic.
Other clinician/researchers will also pick up on this study and build on it. Further studies investigating treatment protocols, involving dosage and timing, with Rituximab or with upcoming drugs in this class will now also occur. A ball has started rolling here. Clinician/researchers in the United States and perhaps elsewhere will explore the use of Rituximab off-label in ME. Kogelnick in CA is rumored to be doing a trial with Rituximab. Peterson is known to have interest in this drug. One can imagine the WPI or the new Mount Sinai ME/CFS research and treatment center giving Rituximab a try.
The most interesting thing about Rituximab is that it is an existing drug that is heavily used world-wide. Rituximab is not without side effects, but future drugs in the same class promise to be more tolerable and safe.
Cort Johnson has written an excellent essay of Rituximab in December 2010 and I refer you to that here.