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Summary of the First International Workshop on XMRV

Monday 27 September 2010

1st International Workshop on XMRVThe CFIDS Association of America has published its summary of the First International Workshop of XMRV.

Here's the introduction:

Of Mice and Men: A Summary of the First International XMRV Workshop

By K. Kimberly McCleary with Steven H. Kleinman, BSc, MD, and Suzanne D. Vernon, PhD

Following a brief welcome to participants and introduction of the first speaker, Stuart LeGrice of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) turned to Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to officially open the First International XMRV Workshop. Dr. Collins’ 10‐minute address set the tone for the 15‐hour meeting held Sept. 7‐8, 2010, in the main auditorium of the Lister Hill Building on the NIH campus.

NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins
NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins

“Prostate cancer and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) are of enormous medical importance. Both are relatively common and the identification of a viral component has increased interest in both conditions. Over many years, CFS has been buffeted back and forth, leaving individuals with it wondering if they have been forgotten. So, this is a timely meeting, at a timely moment when science is at an interesting crossroads,” Dr. Collins observed. He briefly recapped the discoveries leading up to the meeting, noting the conflicting data about the association of XMRV to both prostate cancer and CFS. Laying out questions that need to be answered, he underscored that differences between “X” (xenotropic) and “P” (polytropic) murine leukemia viruses (MLVs) might matter. As one of the steps being taken by NIH, he announced that Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), had tapped Ian Lipkin of Columbia University to conduct a multicenter study of the role of XMRV and PMLVs in CFS patients and matched controls with broad geographic distribution as a “critical next step.” He reminded the 225 participants gathered that “association does not equal causation” and suggested the possibility that some underlying problem with the immune systems of patients with one or both of these conditions might make these viruses more easily detectable. He urged participants to maintain a healthy skepticism and to demand rigor of the studies. He defined the synergistic efforts that would be required by researchers working on prostate cancer and CFS and from different disciplines of science and medicine to uncover clearer answers. Concluding his remarks, he called the assembly a “brain trust” and reminded people that the suffering endured every day by patients with these conditions can only be overcome by strong science. Dr. Collins left shortly after delivering these opening remarks and returned the next day to participate in the sessions focused on prostate cancer and CFS.

In the 10 plenary talks and 20 data presentations that followed, participants from 11 countries and 57 institutions heard new, but sometimes discordant, data about the structure and properties of these viruses of probable mouse origin, assay methods used to detect them, their prevalence in different populations (healthy and ill) and possible therapeutic and control measures. Twenty‐three posters supplemented the oral presentations, although the program did not include a summary or critical review of posters and the building’s layout made it challenging to navigate people and posters during limited breaks. Written abstracts were provided for all data presentations, but not for the invited plenary lectures that led each of 6 distinct sessions. This summary is based on information gleaned from the presentations, the written abstracts, other publications by authors and follow‐up correspondence that was occasionally required to clarify reported results. The time lag between the deadline for submitting abstracts and the meeting date contributed to some shifting of data, particularly related to the addition of evidence from Shyh‐Ching Lo et al. as published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) on August 23, 2010, for the diversity of MLV sequences detected in human samples. A meeting synopsis has been published by in NCI Cancer Bulletin and the workshop’s organizing committee is preparing a summary of the proceedings for publication in Retrovirology, an open access journal. The 2nd International XMRV Workshop is being planned for September 2011.

The full document can be download here:


Of Mice and Men: A Summary of the First International XMRV Workshop (PDF, 642KB)



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