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CFS patients in UK show no signs of XMRV

Tuesday 12 January 2010

ResearchA few months ago we reported on the discovery in the US of a retrovirus known as XMRV in the majority of ME/CFS patients tested.

Now, reports from the UK refute the initial research as scientists in England failed to replicate the original results.

For instance, BBC News reports:

Research finds no proof that a virus is the cause of ME

By Michelle Roberts Health reporter, BBC News

UK scientists say they can find no proof that a particular virus is the cause of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) or ME, contrary to recent claims.

The Imperial College London team say they want to share the findings as some patients are pinning their hopes on drugs to fight the virus called XMRV.

They analysed blood samples from 186 patients with CFS and found none had the virus, PLoS One journal reports.

Experts said the latest findings would be a bitter disappointment to many.

They said more trials were under way and when these report in coming months, scientists will be able to draw more firm conclusions.

Work in the US, published in Science, had found the retrovirus in 68 of 101 CFS patients.

The UK team say the conflict between the two studies might be down to differences between the patients enrolled or the way the research was conducted.

Or there might be different geographical types or strains of XMRV.

Regardless, they say potent antiretroviral drugs should not be used to treat CFS because there is not enough evidence that this is necessary or helpful.

The drugs may do more harm than good, they say.

Professor Myra McClure, one of the Imperial College London investigators, said: "We are confident that our results show there is no link between XMRV and chronic fatigue syndrome, at least in the UK."

She said they had used extremely sensitive DNA testing methods, called polymerase chain reaction, to look for the virus.

"If it had been there, we would have found it."

The full article can be found here.

And New Scientist reports:

CFS patients in UK show no signs of suspect virus

The theory that chronic fatigue syndrome could be caused by a virus that jumped from mice to people has been dealt a blow by a British study that has found no evidence of the virus in people diagnosed with CFS.

Scientists are also warning people with the condition of the dangers of dosing themselves with antiretroviral drugs.

CFS affects more than a million people in the US and a quarter of a million in the UK. Its symptoms include persistent, severe tiredness, but its cause remains mysterious and contentious.

The debate on its origins took a new twist in October, when DNA from xenotropic murine leukaemia virus-related virus (XMRV) was found in the blood of about two-thirds of 101 people with CFS, compared with just 4 per cent of healthy people (Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.1179052). The researchers, led by Judy Mikovits of the Whittemore Peterson Institute in Reno, Nevada, suggested that XMRV might be causing CFS.

The full article can be found here.

And The Independent reports:

Scientists' claim to have found the cause of ME is 'premature'

British scientists have failed to find a link between a new kind of retrovirus and chronic fatigue syndrome in a study that contradicts previous findings by American researchers claiming to have found a possible viral cause of the debilitating condition.

The UK scientists could not detect a recently discovered virus called XMRV in any of the blood samples collected from 186 patients with chronic fatigue syndrome, which is also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME). The researchers believe this demonstrates that XMRV is not implicated in the illness, at least not in Britain.

One scientist involved in the latest research also criticised the previous study, which was published in the peer-reviewed journal Science, saying it was premature and that the journal should have waited until there was stronger, corroborating evidence of such a link.

That article can be found here.

And the Mail Online reports:

British experts say ME virus is a myth

The search for the cause of chronic fatigue syndrome has suffered a setback after British scientists dismissed claims that a virus was to blame.

Hopes of new treatments were raised last year when a 'spectacular' American study found the little-known XMRV bug in up to 95 per cent of blood samples from patients with the mysterious illness.

The U.S. team said the virus could be the sole cause of the condition, which is also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis or ME.

Symptoms of ME, which affects 250,000 Britons, include extreme fatigue and painful limbs. Some sufferers are so weak that they become bed or wheelchair bound.

But lack of a clear cause has led to scepticism that it is a genuine illness. Pinning it on a virus would have removed the stigma and revolutionised the understanding of ME by paving the way for drug treatments and diagnostic tests.

Indeed, the finding was judged so significant that it was published in the respected journal Science.

But last night British experts questioned the virus's role after their own research failed to link it to the disease.

The team from London's King's and Imperial Colleges tested blood samples from 186 people with ME.

All had had the illness for at least four years and most were unable to work. However, not a single one was infected with XMRV, the journal PLoS ONE reports.

The full article can be found here.

Abstracts

Here are the abstracts of both original research results:

XMRV: yes, it exists in people with ME/CFS
Science: "Detection of an Infectious Retrovirus, XMRV, in Blood Cells of Patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome"

XMRV: no, it doesn't exist in people with ME/CFS
PLoS ONE: "Failure to Detect the Novel Retrovirus XMRV in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome"

Articles

In addition to our earlier list of articles reporting the existence of XMRV in ME/CFS patients, here is a list of articles and responses from around the world reporting on the non-existence of XMRV in ME/CFS patients:

(This list will be updated as new articles come in)

13/01/10

The Reno Gazette-Journal
Reno researchers dispute British challenge to virus discovery
(US)

07/01/10

The Economist
Seconds out: a fight over the cause of a mysterious disease
(UK)

07/01/10

The ME Association
Whittemore Peterson Institute responds to Imperial College XMRV study
(UK)

06/01/10

New Scientist
CFS patients in UK show no signs of suspect virus
(US)

06/01/10

The ME Association
ME Association statement - XMRV: UK research group fails to replicate American findings
(UK)

06/01/10

The Independent
Scientists' claim to have found the cause of ME is 'premature'
(UK)

06/01/10

Action for M.E.
Link between XMRV and CFS?
(UK)

06/01/10

Mail Online
British experts say ME virus is a myth
(UK)

05/01/10

BBC News
Research finds no proof that a virus is the cause of ME
(UK)

??/01/10

CFIDS Association of America
XMRV Negative Results Emphasize Need for Robust Replication Study
(US)

 


 

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