Landmark CFS research reported in Science magazine
In today’s issue of Science Express, researchers at the Whittemore-Peterson Institute (WPI), the Cleveland Clinic and the National Cancer Institute report that 67% of 101 chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) patients tested positive for infection with xenobiotic murine retrovirus (XMRV), a gammaretrovirus associated with a subset of prostate cancer. Only 3.7% of 218 healthy subjects tested were positive for the virus. Read the joint press release issued at 2:00pm today. An abstract of the article will be available later today at http://www.sciencemag.org/sciencexpress/recent.dtl. The full article text is available to Science subscribers, American Association for the Advancement of Science members; one-day access to the AAAS site can be purchased for $15.00.
These important results provide evidence of the association of at least a subset of CFS cases with retroviruses, a hypothesis formed in the mid-1980s and pursued by several independent research groups. XMRV was recently discovered in a subset of prostate cancer patients’ tumor cells and the finding by Lombardi et al may be the first documentation of XMRV infection in women.
The authors raise questions about this discovery at the end of the article, including “Is XMRV infection a causal factor in the pathogenesis of CFS or a passenger virus in the immunosuppressed CFS patient population?” This question and others warrant additional investigation and the replication of this study’s findings in other patient cohorts should be a priority for the field. There is currently no commercial test available for XMRV and studies of antiviral and antiretroviral treatments must be conducted to test their efficacy against XMRV infection.
The CFIDS Association of America congratulates Dr. Judy Mikovits and her team at the Whittemore-Peterson Institute and their collaborators at the Cleveland Clinic and National Cancer Institute for this landmark discovery. The findings themselves and publication of them in a journal of the stature and circulation of Science is a highly significant contribution to the field. This study and the high-profile publication are important validation of the reality and seriousness of CFS and those who suffer and have been stigmatized too long.
Detection of an infectious retrovirus, XMRV, in blood cells of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. Lombardi VC, Ruscetti FW, Gupta JD, Pfost MA, Hagen KS, Peterson DL, Ruscetti SK, Bagni RK, Petrow-Sadowski C, Gold B, Dean M, Silverman RH, Mikovits JA. Science 8 October 2009. 1179052.