Introduction to “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A Biological Approach” (Edited by Patrick Englebienne Ph.D., Kenny DeMeirleir M.D, Ph.D., CRC Press. Washington D.C. 2002)

My journey into the intricacies of RNase L deregulation in CFS began with the publication of  Chronic Fatigue Syndrome A Biological Approach’.  (Edited by Patrick Englebienne, Ph.D., Kenny DeMeirleir, M.D., Ph.D.). I had long bemoaned the lack of texts that do service to the multi-dimensional nature of CFS research. When this text appeared in 2002 that took a comprehensive look at one aspect of CFS research  in 2002 I jumped on it. I soon realized, however, that its very technical nature (and my ignorance) required a very close study was necessary and that a synopsis would be very helpful and thus this section was borne. This text does not represent the views of the CFS research community; instead it mostly presents the work of one group of very creative researchers who have devoted themselves to a detailed examination of functioning of the RNase L enzyme – a key component of the immune response.

I should emphasize that this is a laymen’s attempt to delve as deeply as possible into part of the thicket of issues surrounding this very complex disease.  In this synopsis I try to translate into less technical language a very complex and challenging text concerned with some of the most potentially valuable research being done on CFS at this time.  One shudders at the mistakes possibly contained inside but in the absence of significant therapeutic help from the medical establishment one is left with little choice but to dive in and attempt to sound some very deep waters.

After several decades battling this disease I have been struck by the many ‘breakthroughs’ that, if they did not always fade away,nevertheless amounted in the end to less, usually much less, than they first promised.  My growing excitement with this book, as I struggled to understand it, grew not only out of its fundamental breakthrough of the deregulation of RNase L enzyme, but with the many different implications of that deregulation that the authors have so assiduously detailed in this book.  Many of the ramifications of that deregulation are speculative and are being fleshed out.  This, however, is not a flash in the pan; this is not one researchers perhaps illuminating but somehow fundamentally flawed ’big idea’ that flashes across the internet for several months before it dies, leaving scores of disappointed CFS sufferers in its wake.  Since the RNase L connection to CFS first appeared in the early 1990’s, it has, unlike so many other good ideas, only grown in promise.

The portions of this synopsis in parentheses and italics consist of my attempts to further clarify the text.  This ‘guide’ will at times, through its authors incomplete knowledge and/or understanding, surely misrepresent facts, findings, or conclusions presented by Messrs. Englebienne, de MeirLeir, et. al.  Any attempts to clarify this sometimes garbled and confusing synopsis or correct any of the errors contained therein are much appreciated.

Despite its ‘dumbed down’ nature this is still a difficult and challenging read.  I promise, however, that anyone who is able to get through will leave it with some hope for the future.  This synopsis has, in fact, already required  substantial updating in order to include several papers that have been recently been published.

While quite long this is only a synopsis. People interested in the full weight of the authors investigations should get the book. Good reading.

Yours truly, Cort Johnson

To go to Chapters I and II

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