Leading article: Chronic neglect

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The Independent Online

The symptoms are disabling tiredness, irritable bowels, intense headaches, depression and cognitive dysfunction. Yet for years many doctors argued that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome didn't exist. They refused even to dignify it with the name previous sufferers preferred – Myalgic encephalomyelitis. ME, they said, was just "me" writ large and dismissed it as yuppy flu. In the event the flu has lasted longer than the yuppies did. Some four million people suffer from it in the United States alone.

Now two potential avenues for cures come along at once. Researchers in Utah claim to have discovered the gene involved. Another team in Nevada have found compelling evidence that a retrovirus, like HIV, might well be implicated.

Scientists could be on the brink of a breakthrough. We must hope that they are. That would – at least – go some way to compensating for the shameful manner in which sufferers were treated for so long by the medical profession.