From the Daily Mail, 6 January 2010 (Story by Fiona Macrae)
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.