by Gail Kansky

He's been published, given lectures, worked with the Pasteur Institute on CFIDS and plans a return trip, and is a researcher who is on the cutting edge of research; yet, unless you're a resident of California you may not know his name! Darryl M. See, M.D., is a name every PWC (person with CFIDS) will be hearing sooner or later. Dr. See plans to travel to France again soon to expand his research there. He has no doubt that the main causation of CFIDS is genetic, and then an "environmental trigger" has to come into the picture. He believes that if one can manipulate this disease on a genetic level, it can be cured, and he is already investigating ways to accomplish this task! Dr. See stresses that there is no diagnostic marker at this time and cautions that ones that laboratories offer are not to be trusted. After carefully ruling out all other illnesses, he tries to find out what sub-class the PWC is in and he states that "there are many!" Some tests he includes in his workup are: 

  • Quantitative IGG 
  • Natural Killer cell function 
  • Testosterone levels 
  • Cancer panel 
  • HHV6 titers 
  • Lymphocyte assay 
     Although endocrine disorders in CFIDS are important, he believes "it is a secondary...and not a primary cause." A genetic predisposition (he's doing a lot of work in this area) has to be in place. A triggering agent, such as Mycoplasma Incognitus (MI) or HHV6 (human herpesvirus 6) leads to chronic immune activation and disequilibrium which then becomes a vicious cycle. "Our job is to break this vicious cycle so you can get better," said Dr. See. 

     While in France, Dr. See found that a typical PWC has "37.5 viruses activated at any one time." [Note: The winter 1997 issue of the National Forum stated in error that the average PWC has 375 activated viruses.] While three markers have been identified there are "many more to find." There is also an allergic reaction to viruses that persists in the body. 

     Some of the viruses actually insert themselves into the genome. The result, found by Dr. Vojani (Immunosciences Labs) and others are programmed cell death. He believes this can successfully be treated with glycopeptides and glycolupids. In an average AIDS patient, there are 25 million cells dying off but only one cell out of 1,000 is actually infected with HIV. Why do these other cells not infected with HIV die? They are getting signals from the infected cells! "The same thing happens in chronic fatigue syndrome," explained Dr. See,"but it works in a slightly different way." In the PWC, the white cells that should be at rest are activated and they don't know enough to shut down. However, there is now "really exciting new research in this area that leads to...blocking this." 

     EBV (Epstein Barr Virus) initiates only 5-10% of CFIDS cases. Enteroviruses are taking a much larger part (coxsackie, hepatitis A, polio, etc.) and this is Dr. See's specialty. Enteroviruses have recently been found to play a role in diabetes, heart problems, and Lou Gehrig's Disease. Reactivation of viruses causes the Natural Killer (NK) cells to malfunction. He believes people acquire the illness as children, often through roseola, so the PWC is actually all set up for CFIDS and is just waiting for a trigger. He's looked at the viral load of HHV6 in CFIDS and found it in much higher numbers than controls. 

     There are three retroviral classifications: oncoviruses (associated with cancer; retroviruses (associated with AIDS); spuma viruses (now discredited as part of CFIDS). His main focus is a class of virus called human endogenous retroviruses. Everybody has these and there's a lot of them, but when he does antigen (protein) tests on membranes, he found "tremendous amounts" in PWCs and they're being "transcribed in PWCs instead of just sitting there." He has published on this.

     In Europe, one team has found the PWC's ATP reserve barely exists. This translates into having no energy left so that the PWC collapses. He's looking for ways to increase ATP. Antioxidants are a help in this area. 

     The immune system is complex and it is important to know what category you fall into in this area because the treatment that helps one PWC could actually be harmful to another. He published a study on interferon a few years ago. Interferon boosts NK cell function and kills viruses. Only PWCs with defective NK cell function did well on interferon and their quality of life improved dramatically. Since then, he has done a larger trial that is due to be published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. 

[The rest of this article appears in the Winter 1997 Forum, and includes a discussion of some of the drug and nutritional treatments Dr. See uses.]

The National CFIDS Foundation * 103 Aletha Rd, Needham Ma 02492 * (781) 449-3535 Fax (781) 449-8606