" I’ve got people who are up to 8 or 9 or 10; fully recovered able to exercise and participate fully in life. I have all kinds of people who are not as well but are living normal lives now, marrying when they couldn’t marry before, working when they couldn’t work before. It’s been extraordinarily satisfying."
His five decades of work as an infectious disease disease specialist included studies on herpes simplex virus, coxsackie virus, staphylococcus, pseudomonas, mycoplasma, enteroviruses and others. Lerner was contributing author to “Harrison’s Principal’s of Internal Medicine” an important work in the medical field. Over time he co-authored over 150 papers.
Dr. Martin Lerner became acquainted with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in a very direct way: he caught it in 1986 and was disabled by it until 1996. He recovered using valtrex, an antiviral.
One of perhaps four infectious disease specialists in the U.S. focusing on ME/CFS (Dr. Chia, Dr. Montoya, Dr. Kaufman), Dr. Lerner's focus on herpesviruses has left an indelible footprint on this field.
His studies and papers over the past fifteen years kept the herpesvirus infection hypothesis of ME/CFS alive. Dr. Lerner pioneered the Holter Monitor test as a diagnostic tool for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and created a new way to monitor functionality in ME/CFS called the Energy Point Index.
In the late 80's he plunged, largely working alone, into ME/CFS research. His first post-CFS paper came quickly. In 1989 “A New Continuing Fatigue Syndrome Following Mild Viral Illness” proposed that exercise greatly amplified mild heart abnormalities in ME/CFS patients. A 1993 paper documented a ‘subtle cardiac dysfunction’ that showed up response to activity. A 1997 paper asserted that “CFS is a persistent nonpermissive herpes virus infection of the heart”. A small 2001 study found that antiviral therapy could be effective.
In 2002 he found early gene products (for cytomegalovirus) in a subset of patients, and 2002 would find that a 6 month course of valacyclovir could be effective in chronic Epstein-Barr virus infection. In 2004 early gene herpesvirus products showed up in his ME/CFS patients again; this time to the Epstein-Barr virus.
Lerner's non-permissive infection hypothesis received validation later that year when he found that abnormal heart wall motion was associated with incomplete replication of both cytomegalovirus and Epstein-Barr virus in people with chronic fatigue syndrome.
His 2007 followup of his patients over 36 months indicated across the board improvements; heart problems continued to decline and antibody levels fell with many patients returning to their normal activities.
His largest and most comprehensive study to date of almost 150 patients in 2010 indicated that antiviral treatment could be helpful for many ME/CFS patients.
Dr. Lerner passed away in 2015. His office, unfortunately, is now closed.
Documents and Video's
- ME/CFS and FM Recovery Stories
- Diagnostic and Treatment Protocols
- A Primer on ME/CFS
- Treatment Approach Videos here and here.
- Grand Rounds on ME/CFS presentation (2007)
- Invest in ME "Diagnosing ME/CFS" (2008)
- CFSAC: Successful Antiviral Treatment of ME/CFS (2010)
- Dr. Lerner's website (treatment center is closed)
- Learning CFS: Dr. Lerner on his Long term Antiviral Treatment Study
- Dr. Lerner's Antiviral Treatment Trial Succeeds
Antibody to Epstein-Barr virus deoxyuridine triphosphate nucleotidohydrolase and deoxyribonucleotide polymerase in a chronic fatigue syndrome subset. Lerner AM, Ariza ME, Williams M, Jason L, Beqaj S, Fitzgerald JT, Lemeshow S, Glaser R. PLoS One. 2012;7(11):e47891. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0047891. Epub 2012 Nov 14.
Validation of the energy index point score to serially measure the degree of disability in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. Lerner AM, Beqaj SH, Fitzgerald JT. In Vivo. 2008 Nov-Dec;22(6):799-801.
Valacyclovir treatment in Epstein-Barr virus subset chronic fatigue syndrome: thirty-six months follow-up.Lerner AM, Beqaj SH, Deeter RG, Fitzgerald JT. In Vivo. 2007 Sep-Oct;21(5):707-13.
Prevalence of abnormal cardiac wall motion in the cardiomyopathy associated with incomplete multiplication of Epstein-barr Virus and/or cytomegalovirus in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. Lerner AM, Dworkin HJ, Sayyed T, Chang CH, Fitzgerald JT, Beqaj S, Deeter RG, Goldstein J, Gottipolu P, O'Neill W. In Vivo. 2004 Jul-Aug;18(4):417-24.
IgM serum antibodies to Epstein-Barr virus are uniquely present in a subset of patients with the chronic fatigue syndrome. Lerner AM, Beqaj SH, Deeter RG, Fitzgerald JT. In Vivo. 2004 Mar-Apr;18(2):101-6.
A six-month trial of valacyclovir in the Epstein-Barr virus subset of chronic fatigue syndrome: improvement in left ventricular function. Lerner AM, Beqaj SH, Deeter RG, Dworkin HJ, Zervos M, Chang CH, Fitzgerald JT, Goldstein J, O'Neill W. Drugs Today (Barc). 2002 Aug;38(8):549-61. Review.
IgM serum antibodies to human cytomegalovirus nonstructural gene products p52 and CM2(UL44 and UL57) are uniquely present in a subset of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. Lerner AM, Beqaj SH, Deeter RG, Fitzgerald JT.
Immunoassay with cytomegalovirus early antigens from gene products p52 and CM2 (UL44 and UL57) detects active infection in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. Beqaj SH, Lerner AM, Fitzgerald JT. J Clin Pathol. 2008 May;61(5):623-6. Epub 2007 Nov 23.
A small, randomized, placebo-controlled trial of the use of antiviral therapy for patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. Lerner AM, Zervos M, Chang CH, Beqaj S, Goldstein J, O'Neill W, Dworkin H, Fitgerald T, Deeter RG. Clin Infect Dis. 2001 Jun 1;32(11):1657-8. No abstract available.
Abnormal left ventricular myocardial dynamics in eleven patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. Dworkin HJ, Lawrie C, Bohdiewicz P, Lerner AM. Clin Nucl Med. 1994 Aug;19(8):675-7.
Repetitively negative changing T waves at 24-h electrocardiographic monitors in patients with the chronic fatigue syndrome. Left ventricular dysfunction in a cohort. Lerner AM, Lawrie C, Dworkin HS. Chest. 1993 Nov;104(5):1417-21.
A new continuing fatigue syndrome following mild viral illness. A proscription to exercise. Lerner AM. Chest. 1988 Nov;94(5):901-2. No abstract available.