Appeal for funds for a UK study into XMRV and cell cytotoxicity

December 17, 2009

Two UK charities have announced their intention to fund a study into the XMRV retrovirus – if they can raise the money online.

Invest in ME and ME Solutions want to put money into a study being set up by Dr Jonathan Kerr from St George's Medical School, University of London, and Dr Amolak Bansal, consultant immunologist at St Helier Hospital, Carshalton.

The study is entitled ‘The role of XMRV in modulation of NK cell cytotoxicity and NK cell gene abnormalities in ME/CFS patients and normal blood donors'.

In a joint press release, the charities say:

A newly discovered γ-retrovirus, Xenotropic Murine Leukaemia Virus-like virus (XMRV) has recently been found to be present in the blood of 68 of 101 (67%) ME/CFS patients as compared with 8 of 218 (3.7%) normal healthy controls (Lombardi et al, 2009). XMRV has been cultured from T, B and NK cells, but primarily targets NK cells. NK cell dysfunction has previously been reported in ME/CFS, despite their numbers often being largely unaffected.

Defects in the innate immune system are thought to play a key role in the pathogenesis of ME/CFS and these abnormalities may leave individuals susceptible to XMRV infection. This study will relate the presence of XMRV in NK cells with ME/CFS-associated abnormalities previously demonstrated in NK cells and ME/CFS-associated gene abnormalities.

Plan of Investigation

A sample of clinically-diagnosed (according to the Fukuda and Canadian criteria) ME/CFS patients and age-and-sex matched normal controls will be recruited. XMRV status will be determined and NK cells obtained and tested for ME/CFS-associated gene abnormalities in NK cells. XMRV status will be related to ME/CFS gene expression changes.


ME Solutions and Invest in ME welcome sponsorship and donations for this two year project which we hope will begin as soon as possible.\


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