Helse Bergen blog post, 29 Sep 29017: RituxME

B-lymphocyte depletion using the anti-CD20 antibody rituximab (Mabthera®) in Myalgic Encephalopathy/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (“RituxME”)

​RituxME is a multicentre study conducted in five study centres in Norway: the Oncology Department at Haukeland University Hospital, the ME/CFS Centre at Oslo University Hospital (Aker), the Dept of Medicine at Notodden Hospital, the Dept. of Pain and Complex Disorders at St. Olav’s Hospital in Trondheim, and the Division of Rehabilitation Services at the University Hospital of North Norway in Tromsø.

The purpose of the study is to confirm or disprove the results from two smaller phase II studies, which have indicated improvement in symptoms in a subgroup of ME patients after rituximab treatment.

The study is randomized, double-blind and placebo controlled. This means that out of 152 participants, half will receive treatments with rituximab and the other half will be treated with placebo (saline). The treatments are allocated at random, and neither patient nor doctor is informed of which intervention group the patient is allocated to.

All participants receive six intravenous treatments during one year, followed by one year of regular consultations and blood tests. The participants complete examinations and tests before and after treatment, and they submit regular reports on any changes in symptoms and physical function.

The clinical study also encompasses three substudies:

  • Endothelial function in ME/CFS – at Haukeland University Hospital and Notodden Hospital
  • Ergospirometry in ME/CFS – at Haukeland University Hospital, Notodden Hospital and Oslo Universitety Hospital.
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome and functional dyspepsia in ME/CFS – at Haukeland University Hospital.

Status, RituxME
All patient treatment and follow-up has been completed according to schedule in September 2017. The placebo and rituximab groups will be revealed to the scientists in October, and all participants will receive a letter informing them of which treatment group they were allocated to. We will then start working on the analysis of results, and expect to publish the results of the study in a medical journal during the first half of 2018.

Note: Senior Consultant Øystein Fluge and Professor Olav Mella supervise the ME/CFS research group at the Dept. of Oncology and Medical Physics at Haukeland University Hospital.

Read more about ME/CFS Research at Haukeland Hospital

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