“ME ‘not caused by virus’, scientists told”, Daily Telegraph, 21 June 2011

From the Daily Telegraph, 21 June 2011 (story by Andy Bloxham).

The condition ME is not caused by a virus despite previous evidence to the contrary, scientists have announced.

The illness, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome, is triggered by infections in the blood which are not fully understood.

ME, which stands for myalgic encephalomyelitis, affects 250,000 Britons also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

Symptoms include extreme tiredness and aching muscles. Those severely affected often spend much of the day in bed or in a wheelchair.

In 2009, US researchers claimed to have made a breakthrough when they discovered a virus called XMRV in blood samples of those with the condition that was not present in a control group.

However, scientists from the Nijmegen Medical Centre at Radboud University in the Netherlands said it was time the theory was officially scotched.

Dr Frank van Kuppevald and Jos van der Meer, writing in an online commentary in medical journal The Lancet, said recent findings had raised “huge scepticism” about the idea that ME is caused by a virus.

They said “new publications seem to provide the final nail in the coffin” of the theory.

They added: “Sadly, we have to conclude that the world has witnessed another false claim that gave new hope to patients with CFS, who are desperately seeking a cause for their suffering.”

The Dutch scientists are not alone in their conclusions.

The editors of the journal Science were so concerned that they contacted the US authors of the 2009 study to ask for the work to be retracted.
However, this has not happened and some in the scientific world continue to be worried that false conclusions have not been erased.

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