Monday, February 25, 2013

"Hanging Fire" – Dr. John Chia

I remember well the ME/CFS researcher Jonathan Kerr. Many people might not remember that he wrote a paper on enteroviral involvement in ME/CFS, a copy of which can be found here.

“The role of enterovirus infection as a trigger and perpetuating factor in CFS/ME has been recognized for decades.”

Soon after this, Jonathan Kerr "was disappeared" from ME/CFS research. I wonder where he is? I miss his efforts on our behalf. The more I think about his departure, the sadder I get. In the last few years we have lost a number of serious ME/CFS researchers. These losses have been distressing.

On a less disturbing note, we might put forth the idea that ME/CFS research has never been so broad and far-ranging as it is today. Some would say that we are making progress, and that hope stands right around the corner (probably leaning against a wall, whistling - or smoking a cigarette).

In this world of optimism, one astonishing item continues to be set aside or ignored: the enteroviral association with ME/CFS established by Dr. John Chia. Something needs to be done about this. Dr. John Chia's critical work should be put center stage. Dr. Chia holds in his hand a key to unlock a part of this illness.

Recently there has been a fine set of video interviews with this unsung hero of ME/CFS. Part one can be seen here with the others following. These interviews are conducted by Llewellyn King, who speaks with a knowledge and ease that is admirable. Llewellyn King’s series ME/CFSAlert has focused on many clinicians and researchers. However, this four-part interview with Dr. John Chia is the best. It is worth viewing these videos more than once - for the key points to sink in.

Ten years ago, Dr. Chia’s son Andrew became sick with what turned out to be ME/CFS. In his desire to help his son, Dr. Chia did what many smart people do - he turned to the past (history) - and studied the early literature of ME. Things fell into place for Dr. Chia as he reviewed the older, known connection of ME/CFS to enteroviruses. Enteroviruses fit the picture.

Early clinicians in the field, especially Ramsey and Richardson, suspected enteroviral involvement. This belief held particularly true in the UK, where the disease is known by its proper name - Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME). 

If one wants to get a real fright about the seriousness of this illness and what enteroviruses can do in the human body, read John Richardson’s “Enteroviral Medicated EncephalomyelitisSyndrome Pathologies”.

In time, the pursuit of an enteroviral association with ME/CFS lapsed. There are several reasons for this.

In 2007 Dr. Chia and his son Andrew Chia reignited this enteroviral idea and published a paper demonstrating a strong association of enteroviruses in ME/CFS.  The surprising and convincing aspect of their study was that they were looking at real human tissue – stomach biopsies. This is hardly ever done in ME/CFS research.

As a researcher/clinician, Dr. Chia has constructed a world of his own. He has gathered his profound insights through making no great new discovery. He has just connected the dots. His studies are the product of persistent, dogged effort. As he says, his work is not sexy. Dr. Chia and his son continue to build research into enteroviral involvement in ME/CFS.

Since his paper was published in 2007, no one has tried to substantiate or replicate his work. Why? How can his be?

Dr. Chia has left “something of significance” for us sitting on the table in plain view.  To get further with this it needs to be taken up by someone else. No thinking is involved. All it needs is the hard work of replication.

(InvestinME has done a great service in elevating Dr. Chia’s research. They invite him to speak each year. Unfortunately, his research efforts are at a standstill with his ideas gaining no traction. What is Dr. Chia supposed to do – replicate his own study?)

Anyone familiar with the research world of ME knows the implications of nailing down one corner of the illness through substantiating an association with an infectious agent.  Let me repeat that: if you nail down one corner of this illness with an infectious agent, you nail down the whole thing.

Instead, everyone wants to go in their own direction and solve this illness on their own. Is that the idea? - Everyone comes up with their own idea that will never be substantiated? Is this how real science is done today? Does the ME/CFS research world have to be that constricted?

Why doesn’t the Whittemore Peterson Institute (WPI), Mt Sinai ME/CFS Center, Ben Natelson, Peterson’s Simarron Research Foundation, Klimas’ Nova Institute for Neuroimmune Medicine, the Chronic Fatigue Initiative, Kolgenick’s Open Medicine, Jose Montoya at Stanford, or the CAA, step up to the plate and substantiate Dr. Chia's work?

The most likely person to pursue the enteroviral connection in ME/CFS is Ian Lipkin at Columbia. Lipkin has an inquisitive nature. I would be surprised if he is doing tissue biopsies, which seems the way to go.

It is time for someone to make a serious effort to replicate Dr. Chia’s work - and to find out what exactly it means. 

Nothing would get the government agencies or the drug companies interested faster than scientifically demonstrating a viral association to ME/CFS.

You can petition the government as long as you want but nothing will change until the science is built in a coherent fashion. Giving them a replicated study of Dr. John Chia’s work would be a very good first step. It would put a sudden halt to the research merry-go-round of the last twenty-five years. 

Whoever participates in this will get a very big feather in their cap. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Dr. John Chia with Llewellyn King

Just today I was speaking to a friend about Llewellyn King's gifts at interviewing people. Here is another example of his fine work, another section of an interview with Dr. John Chia. Dr. Chia is one of the very finest minds working in the field of ME/CFS.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Dr. John Chia with Llewellyn King, 3rd section

Here is the third section of a very fine interview with Dr. John Chia. The interview is conducted by Llwellyn King. Mr. King does us a great service in conducting these ME/CFS Alert interviews, and presenting ME/CFS information with such clarity. Clarity is something that is in short supply in this illness.

This interview should be required viewing material for anyone who is interested in this illness. Dr. Chia has a firm grasp on a very significant aspect of this complex illness. His ideas are attached to solid evidence - also something that is in short supply in this illness. It is always surprising to me that more clinicians and researchers are not assisting Dr. Chia and his ideas, which incidentally are not new ideas, but take us back to the very first studies of this illness in the UK.

It would be nice to have some validation of Dr. Chia's ideas through other clinical studies involving other clinicians and researchers. Perhaps I am just not privy to this information, but it seems that Dr. Chia is working on his own here - and to me this is a problem, as he has what looks like a significant part of the answer.

I wonder what Dr. Chia would think of Anatabloc? I wonder if he uses it with his patients?

I have written in other posts about Dr. John Chia - for those who might be interested.