An Irish doctor has come up with a successful treatment for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) with an eye to eventually finding a cure for the condition that affects over 250,000 patients in the UK.
Dr. Derek Enlander, born in Belfast and a resident of the U.S. since 1966, is very concerned about the attitude many doctors have towards CFS, otherwise known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME).
“This is a very sad disease that is not recognised and treated,” said Enlander, who practices internal medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York and serves as president of the Israel Medical Research Foundation.
Enlander describes CFS as “a debilitating and complex disorder characterised by profound fatigue that is not improved by bed rest and that may be worsened by physical or mental activity.”
Enlander said there is little recognition for the syndrome in the U.S., and far less in Ireland. “They (doctors) are saying basically that people are depressed and they imagine they are sick.”
It was during a trip to Ireland several years ago that his interest in CFS developed after he was asked by a childhood friend to help him deal with the then virtually unknown condition.
“I was completely intrigued by this illness due to its highly unusual effects on patients, its lack of consistency and seemingly affecting so many aspects of the body, and the lack of objective testing evidence when clearly these patients were so very ill,” said the doctor.
Now, 15 years later, Enlander is renowned internationally for the research he has completed and treatments he has made available for patients suffering from CFS.
Enlander initially designed an injection that he has been treating patients with, and more recently he began supplementing the injection with a substance called immunoprop, an immune system adjuvant.
“The treatments act on the immune system because we believe that CFS is an immune system dysfunction,” said Enlander, adding that to date 65% of his patients “actually recover from the treatment.”
The cause or causes of CFS have not been identified, and no specific diagnostic tests are available, but Enlander’s study brings him to believe that the disease comes from the XMRV virus in the body. XMRV is a retrovirus, a member of the same family of viruses as the AIDS virus.
“We don’t know where the XMRV virus comes from, but it’s seen in CFS patients all the time,” he explains.
Enlander further adds that there is an interrelationship between CFS and Fibromyalgia (FMS), pain in the muscles and joints.
“I do believe that CFS and FMS are related illnesses”.
Enlander promises to continue investigating the disease until more in depth knowledge about it can be discovered leading to further treatments and a possible cure. He is currently embarking on a new research project into the disease.
Enlander, who has a practice in New York City and Long Island, sees patients from all over the world. Most of his patients are women.
“Seventy-five percent of patients are women and we don’t know why, but it’s certainly not because they are imagining it,”.