‘Further evidence of an XMRV-Chronic Fatigue Syndrome connection?’

June 24, 2010

From Wall Street Journal Blogs, Health Blogger (story by Amy Dockser Marcus) http://blogs.wsj.com/health/2010/06/23/further-evidence-of-an-xmrv-chronic-fatigue-connection/

A report that a respected NIH expert supported an association between the XMRV virus and chronic fatigue syndrome is causing a buzz among CFS patient activists, researchers and clinicians.

According to a press release issued by a Dutch magazine, one of the slides presented at a recent workshop in Zagreb by Harvey Alter, chief of the infectious disease section at the NIH’s clinical center, supports the link between XMRV and CFS reported last year in Science.

This is significant because studies published later by other groups have produced conflicting results.  Alter is a well-known figure in the infectious-disease world; his research helped lead to the discovery of the hepatitis C virus.

“It’s what we’ve been waiting for,” says Annette Whittemore, head of the Whittemore Peterson Institute in Reno, whose scientists were investigators on the Science paper. Her team went out to celebrate the report, although she says, “I want to see [the data] published.” She tells the Health Blog she is hoping that confirmation of her scientists’ work will help drive more funding to XMRV research.

A spokeswoman for the NIH said she couldn’t comment on the report because “the data haven’t been published yet,” though she confirmed the presentation slides are authentic. Alter didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The May 26-27 workshop was organized by the International Plasma Fractionation Association and the Paul Ehrlich Institute and hosted by the Institute of Immunology (IZM). To see Alter’s presentation, click here, then follow subsequent links to the available presentations and to the Alter presentation in session 4.

A slide titled “Comments on the Agent Du Jour—XMRV,” says the data in the Science paper are “extremely strong and likely true, despite the controversy.” The slide indicates that the association of XMRV with CFS “is very strong, but causality not proved.”

In addition, Alter’s presentation estimates the incidence of XMRV in the donor blood supply at 3% to 7%– versus the nearly 4% cited in the Science paper.

And at the bottom of the slide, in a bullet point that launched all the buzz, this statement: “We (FDA & NIH) have independently confirmed the Lombardi group [which published the original Science paper] findings.”

Original press release from MMD Newswire, 22 June 2010

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