Complete text of Imperial College, London XMRV Detection Testing web pages
Today, 6 February, the ME Association has published the following statement
“Late last night The ME Association was informed that this announcement about XMRV testing does not apply to people with ME/CFS, or suspected ME/CFS. It only relates to the availability of the Imperial College XMRV test to referring doctors who are dealing with cases of prostate cancer. A full clarification will appear on the Imperial College website on Monday. It will appear here once we have it.”
On 5 February, Professor Simon Wessely’s office had responded to an enquirer that it was Professor Wessely’s understanding that this Imperial College test “is not intended for people who know they have CFS or are concerned they might have CFS”, that he could see that “it was not clear from the announcement”, that “it seems this was an oversight which is going to be speedily corrected” and that he hoped this clarified matters.
Professor Wessely was a co-author of the January 2010 paper: Erlwein O, Kaye S, McClure MO, Weber J, Wills G, Collier D, Wessely S, Cleare A. (2010) Failure to detect the novel retrovirus XMRV in chronic fatigue syndrome. PLoS One. 2010; 5: e8519. Full text PLoSOne paper
This study, led by Prof Myra McClure of Imperial College London, found no evidence that XMRV is associated with CFS in the UK.
Professor Wessely is Vice Dean, Institute of Psychiatry, Head of Department of Psychological Medicine, Director, King’s Centre for Military Health Research, King’s College London. Since Professor Wessely is employed by the Institute of Psychiatry, it is unclear why he has taken it upon himself to act as a spokesperson for the Molecular Diagnostics Unit, Imperial College, London.
There has been much confusion about the purpose of this test and the patient population(s) that might be referred for the test. Questions have also been raised around the specific testing methods being used in relation to XMRV and its possible association with prostate cancer or suspected prostate cancer. Other laboratories have found XMRV in prostate tumour and tumour-associated tissues only, not in whole blood samples as specified by Imperial College.
(References ,  and , Imperial College website text)
As the Imperial College webpages are anticipated to be updated next week in order to address the lack of clarity, I am publishing, for the record, copies of all text currently available on the Imperial College website that relates to the offering of this test.
All text and Word document accessed on 06.02.10
Imperial College, London
Faculty of Medicine
XMRV Detection Testing
Scope of the test
Infection with the newly discovered retrovirus xenotropic murine leukaemia virus-related virus (XMRV) has been associated with prostate cancer [1, 2] and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) . No causal link between infection and any human disease has been proven and the association between XMRV and prostate cancer or CFS remains controversial [4-6]. Indeed, in a study in our own laboratory of 186 patients with well-defined CFS we failed to detect the virus in any sample .
Test details (top of page)
The test uses the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to detect XMRV provirus (the DNA form of the viral genome) in peripheral blood mononuclear cells. The limit of detection of the method is one XMRV proviral DNA copy in 105 cells. The test includes controls for non-specific inhibition of PCR to avoid false negative results. The method is a fully validated in-house method. A summary of the validation is available from the Unit Manager.
Reporting results (top of page)
The results will be reported as “XMRV detected” or “XMRV not detected”, the test is not quantitative at present.
Turnaround time (top of page)
We aim to issue reports within two weeks of receiving a sample. Details of samples and sample shipment are given on the user instruction page [weblink]. Please note we can only accept test requests and samples from medical practitioners (GPs or hospital doctors) we will not accept test requests directly from patients.
Charges (top of page)
The current charge for testing is £200/sample.
Complaints (top of page)
If you are unhappy with the service provided by MDU or if you wish to make suggestions on how our service can be improved, please contact the Unit Manager.
References (top of page)
1.Urisman A, Molinaro RJ, Fischer N Plummer SJ, Casey G et al. (2006) Identification of a novel gammaretrovirus in prostate tumors of patients homozygous for R462Q RNaseL variant. PLoS Pathog. 2: 211- 225.
2.Schlaberg R, Choe DJ, Brown KR, Thaker HM, Singh IR (2009) XMRV is present in malignant prostatic epithelium and is associated with prostate cancer, especially high-grade tumours. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 106: 16351-6
3.Lombardi V, Ruscetti FW, Gupta JD, Pfost MA, Hagen KS et al. (2009) Detection of an infectious retrovirus, XMRV, in blood cells of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. Science 326: 585-589.
4.Fischer N, Hellwinkel O, Schulz C, Chun FK, Huland H et al. (2008) Prevalence of human gamma retrovirus XMRV in sporadic prostate cancer. J Clin Virol. 43: 277-283.
5.D’Arcy FR, Foley A, Perry L, Marignol L, Lawler M et al. (2008) No evidence of XMRV in Irish prostate cancer patients with the R462Q mutations. European Urology 7 Suppl: 271
6.Hohn O, Krause H, Barbarotto P, Niederstadt L, Beimforde N et al. (2009) Lack of evidence for xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV) in German prostate cancer patients. Retrovirology 6:92.
7.Erlwein O, Kaye S, McClure MO, Weber J, Wills G, Collier D, Wessely S, Cleare A. (2010) Failure to detect the novel retrovirus XMRV in chronic fatigue syndrome. PLoS One. 2010; 5: e8519.
First time users
For routine testing, the required sample is one 4.5ml EDTA Vacutainer of whole blood.
Each sample must be accompanied by a Request Form. This can either be the form provided by MDU or your own form. If it is the latter it must contain the following details:
• patient clinic number (not the patient’s name)
• date of birth
• sample date
• reason for requesting the test
Samples should be couriered or mailed to MDU on the day of collection if possible.
If it is not possible to ship the sample the same day it can be kept in the refrigerator (not freezer) and shipped the next day or can be shipped the following Monday if taken on Friday.
The shipper is responsible for packaging the sample according to current guidelines for shipment of pathology specimens.
First time users
If you are using the service for the first time please contact the Unit manager, Dr Steve Kaye, to discuss your requirements and answer any questions you may have.
Tel: 020 759 43917 (direct)
FAO Dr Steve Kaye
Molecular Diagnostic Unit,
Imperial College London
4th Floor, Medical School Building
St. Mary’s Hospital
London W2 1PG
Test Request Form
Open Word document here on ICL site: ICL Test Request Form
Open Word document here on ME agenda: ICL Test Request Form
Text of Request Form
Imperial College London
Molecular Diagnostics Unit
Imperial College London
Jefferiss Trust Laboratory, St Mary’s Campus, Norfolk Place
London W2 1PG
Tel. +44 (0) 207 5943 917
Please send one 4.5ml EDTA Vacutainer to: Dr Steve Kaye, Molecular Diagnostics Unit, 4th floor Medical School Building, St. Mary’s Hospital, Norfolk Place, London W2 1PG.
The shipper is responsible for packaging the sample in accordance with current guidelines for the shipment of pathology specimens.
Note we will only accept requests from doctors or clinics, not directly from patients.
Patient details (sticker)
Clinic number_________________________ Sample date________________________
Date of birth_________________________
Reason for request:
Request from/report to: Doctor_____________________________________