Over the past few months, I've received dozens of e-mails from all over the world, asking me about Valcyte. I've gotten the impression that most of these people have read just one of my old blog entries, from this winter when I briefly tried Valcyte. I was curious about this onslaught of questions, so I tried typing "CFS" and "Valcyte" into Yahoo and guess what? One of my blog entries from March was the very first search result! I'm certainly no expert on Valcyte with my limited experience, so I thought it was time to supply some updated information and references. Let's hope this entry takes the place of that old one in the search engines!
For starters, CFS has long been thought to have some connection with a handful of viruses. Research in the past few years has proven this connection. It has been confirmed now that about 12% of the population that catches certain infections goes on to develop CFS. Mononucleosis (often caused by the Epstein-Barr virus and known sometimes as glandular fever) and Lyme disease are two of these infections known to trigger CFS. Additional research has shown that some of us are genetically predisposed to develop CFS (lucky us).
More recently, the entire CFS community was astounded by the results of a study using Valcyte to treat CFS. Dr. Jose Montoya of Stanford University treated 25 of his worst CFS patients with Valcyte and, amazingly, 23 of them improved significantly (it even sounds like some of them are almost completely recovered). Dr. Montoya is now conducting a full placebo-controlled trial of Valcyte for another 100 CFS patients. Some important facts to note about these studies:
Patients who improved had abrupt-onset CFS and had significantly high levels of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and Human Herpes Virus-6 (HHV-6) in their blood.
Most, if not all, patients who improved first experienced a severe worsening of their symptoms that lasted from a few weeks to many months.
CFS patients were treated with Valcyte for a minimum of 6 months, some for much longer.
Valcyte is a fairly toxic medication, with some serious risks associated with it.
In addition to Valcyte, there are several other anti-viral medications (some with fewer risks than Valcyte) that have had some success in CFS patients, depending on which viruses are present. Famvir and Valtrex are two of these medications.
Here are some references for more information:
Dr. Podell, in Somerset, NJ, is also treating CFS patients with Valcyte. He's written an excellent summary of CFS and Valcyte, including many links to additional resources as well as links to Dr. Montoya's information.
Dr. Martin Lerner, in Michigan, has been treating CFS patients with a variety of anti-viral medications, including Valcyte, Valtrex, and Famvir, for several years. His website includes detailed information on his trials and treatments.
Finally, if you want to hear about other people's experiences with Valcyte and other anti-virals, check out the message boards at ProHealth Immune Support. Registration is free, and there are many message threads on these topics. Just click on Message Boards and take a moment to register.
I hope that these references help those of you interested in learning more about treating CFS with anti-virals like Valcyte. These are the websites that I've turned to in the past 6 months. As for myself, I'll continue to write here at my blog about my own experiences with Valtrex.