MY TIME WITH DR. BOB
By Alan Cocchetto, NCF Medical Director (Copyright 2016)
From Spring 2016 Forum
Many years ago, my long-time and very good friend, Nancy Kaiser, introduced me to Dr. Robert Suhadolnik. Dr. Bob, as he liked to be called, was on the faculty at Temple University.
For those of you Who may have forgotten, Dr. Bob did a great deal of work looking at the antiviral pathway in CFIDS/ME patients and Nancy Kaiser was one of those fortunate patients who had been tested by him. Over the years, they had become good friends.
The antiviral pathway is formally known as the 2’,5’-oligoadenylate synthetase (2-5A) pathway. This important biological pathway is critical to the human immune system and its subsequent response to pathogenic viruses, bacteria, etc. Dr. Bob was the first to report and publish peer-reviewed medical journal articles on the abnormalities he had identified in patients. 2-5A interfaced with the likes of other perhaps more familiar labels, such as RNaseL and PKR, all vital parts necessary to mount an adequate immune response in time of attack.
I’ll never forget the first time that I chatted with Dr. Bob. I had mentioned to Nancy that the NCF had identified a serious abnormality in the STAT1 protein in patients. Since STAT1 played an important immunological role against viral and bacterial infections, I had asked Nancy if she thought if Dr. Bob would be willing to chat with me about this. Well, Nancy called me hours later to let me know that Dr. Bob would be calling me shortly!
Sure enough, Dr. Bob called and stated that he and Nancy had been chatting and catching up on the latest CFIDS/ME medical findings. After some initial conversation, Dr. Bob and I got down to some nitty gritty stuff. I told him about the NCF’s STAT1 findings. He told me that this was very disturbing and that he was concerned for the patients. I asked him if he had a copy of DeMeirleir’s book, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A Biological Approach, and he said that he did. I told him to go read a particular chapter regarding STATl and in the mean time, I would send him a copy of the corresponding patent. He said that was terrific and that I would hear from him in a day or two. I then thanked him for his time and looked forward to his thoughts on this matter.
Sure enough, Dr. Bob called me and he was very upset. He told me that the STAT1 abnormality findings helped to explain the anomalies that he had first identified in the 2-5A pathway and that this was the reason for it. Furthermore, he didn’t realize that this was both in the book as well as the patent. For those who knew Dr. Bob, he would swear where appropriate and this was apparently appropriate!
Dr. Bob then asked me what my thoughts were about all of this? So I asked, hey....do you have any samples that you could test for STAT1? He said you bet. “Which ones do you want?” So I asked him, what samples do you have? He said, “I have my own CFIDS patient samples but I also have CFIDS samples directly from the NIH as well.” So naturally I said, “Well hell, Dr. Bob, could you use the NIH samples?” Of course he said yes. And with that, Dr. Bob Went on to test numerous samples that came directly from the NIH.....patients who were diagnosed with CFIDS from the NIH! He went on to tell me that he would be getting back to me with the results of his testing once they were completed.
Months later, I got a call from Dr. Bob who informed me that he had finished the STATI testing on the NIH samples. I asked him what he had found and he told me that all of the samples had abnormal findings for STAT1! For him, this testing further confirmed the seriousness of the illness.
Dr. Bob and I had many conversations after that for which I am grateful. The reason why I have chosen to Write this colurrm is that he passed away recently. I found Dr. Bob to be brutally honest, forthright and he didn’t mince Words. He was a ‘tell it like it is’ kind of guy.
I hope that Nancy and Dr. Bob can now sit down peacefully and have a wonderful chat together as they were terrific friends. My condolences go out to Dr. Bob’s family and close friends. Thank you, Dr. Bob, for all of your scienti?c contributions and for the many friendships that you forged in the CFIDS community.
The National CFIDS Foundation * 103 Aletha Rd, Needham Ma 02492 *(781) 449-3535 Fax (781) 449-8606