Even the Fittest of People Can Get Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

An NBC4 Health Report LOS ANGELES — Even the fittest of people like Olympic gold medalist Dame Kelly Holmes can get Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or ME.

Many, like primary school teacher Carly McGowan, initially faced a reluctance from their doctors to accept the condition though the symptoms can be debilitating.

"It's absolutely awful," McGowan said. "Basically, you just feel drained all the time. Totally exhausted. You can't sleep very well at night so you have to make up for it during the day. You have to completely change your life, I can't do half the things I used to do. I feel like I've got flu all the time, sort of hot and cold, aching muscles, tired." Twice as many women as men suffer from the condition. Despite years of research, we still are not sure what causes this exhausting illness. But now a team at London's Imperial College have identified what they believe is a biologicalreason for the condition, a malfunction of genes, possibly after a virus.

"We have tested for many thousands of human genes and found that 16 are significantly different between patients and normal people," said Dr. Jonathan Kerr. "It is very exciting because we can design treatment to interfere with those physiological and biological processes which underlie chronic fatigue syndrome." Those findings may have a big effect on some of the doctors who have been skeptical about chronic fatigue syndrome, believing it is all in the sufferer's mind.

The initial study of 25 patients is being replicated in around a thousand people and soon clinical trials will begin ona drug that might interfere with the abnormal gene activity and so give hope of a cure. This is not exact cause-and-effect proof the genes cause the symptoms, and we still don't have the virus that may precipitate the change, but it is one of the first concrete findings in chronic fatigue. Copyright 2005 by NBC4.tv. All rights reserved.

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