Media coverage round up 2: UK media coverage: Alter et al XMRV PNAS paper
(Presence of Murine Leukemia Virus Related Gene Sequences Found in CFS Patients – XMRV PNAS paper)
For Newswire; Abstract; Full paper; Supporting information; Editorial; Commentary go here:
Updates for UK media coverage will be added to the top of this list:
UK patient organisations
The ME Association has said that it will be publishing a commentary later this week.
Action for M.E.
Action for M.E. News release | 24 August 2010
M.E.charity calls on MRC to put its money where its mouth is, following new research from States
Action for M.E., the UK’s leading charity for people with M.E., is calling on the Medical Research Council to prioritise research into the link between viral infections and M.E., following the latest findings from the United States.
Scientists at the American Food and Drug Administration, National Institutes of Health and Harvard Medical School have found murine leukemia virus-related viruses (MLVs) in 32 out of a sample of 37 (86.5%) people with chronic fatigue syndrome, compared to 3 out of 44 (6.8%) healthy blood donors.
Chronic fatigue syndrome is also known as M.E. or M.E./CFS.
The findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) support research from the Whittemore Peterson Institute in Reno, last October, which identified genetic material (DNA) from a mouse virus – murine leukaemia virus-related virus (XMRV) – in 68 out of 101 CFS patients (67%) compared to 8 out of 218 (3.7%) of healthy people.
Action for M.E.’s Chief Executive, Sir Peter Spencer, welcomed the latest news saying, “It is extremely encouraging to see positive results linking different strains of viruses and CFS, after disappointing results from other studies earlier this year.
“However, we cannot afford to leave this to the Americans. M.E. affects 250,000 men women and children in the UK, from toddlers aged two to people in their eighties. Many become so severely affected that they are bedbound or housebound.
“In June, the MRC’s expert group on M.E./CFS identified viral infection as a priority. We now call on the MRC to take this forward in real terms, as a matter of urgency, by allocating a significant level of funding to research in this area.
“There are still many questions to be answered, not least the variations in findings. Large-scale studies involving many more patients are also required.”
Notes to editor
1. The findings published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) can be found at http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/08/16/1006901107.full.pdf+html
3. October 2009 research from the Whittemore Peterson Institute can be found at:
4. The June 2010 MRC CFS/ME Research Prioritisation Meeting details may be found at: http://www.mrc.ac.uk/Utilities/Documentrecord/index.htm?d=MRC007174
5. Action for M.E. is the UK’s largest charity for people with M.E. and more about the illness may be found on its website, www.afme.org.uk
UK media coverage:
Daily Mail | 24 August 2010 | Claire Bates
Chronic fatigue syndrome ‘may be caused by mouse-related virus’
Chronic fatigue syndrome may be caused by a rare mouse-related virus, new research suggests.
Scientists found evidence of murine leukaemia virus – known to cause cancer in mice – in 86 per cent of chronic fatigue patients.
However, traces from this family of bugs were only found in seven per cent of samples from healthy blood donors. It adds to the growing body of evidence that an infection could play a role in the complicated illness.
Quote from UK Imperial College London, retroviralist, Prof Myra McClure, co-author of:
“Let’s be clear: This is another virus. They did not confirm [Mikovits’s] results,” says retrovirologist Myra McClure of ICL, a co-author of one of the four negative studies…”
Second Paper Supports Viral Link to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
by Martin Enserink on August 23, 2010 4:02 PM
“…The data do seem solid, admits Steve Monroe, who co-authored the conflicting CDC paper. “It’s simply a good paper,” adds Reinhard Kurth, the former director of the Robert Koch Institute in Germany, who helped test some of CDC’s samples and did not find the virus either. Alter—a widely respected virologist and winner of the Albert Lasker Award for Clinical Medical Research—”clearly knows what he is doing. They did everything correctly,” says Kurth, who nonetheless says he remains skeptical.
So too does virologist Robin Weiss of Imperial College London (ICL), who says he’s seen too many instances of proposed new human retroviruses that fell apart on closer inspection, including one he reported in arthritis and lupus patients in 1999 that turned out to be an innocuous rabbit virus. (In a 40-page review that he co-authored in 2008, Weiss called such mishaps “human rumor viruses.”) “You can have a very good reputation and be very careful and still get it wrong,” Weiss says.
Part of the problem, skeptics say, is that the researchers didn’t exactly replicate the Science paper. XMRV is a so-called xenotropic murine virus, which means it can no longer enter mouse cells but can infect cells of other species. (Murine means “from mice.”) The researchers in the PNAS paper say the viral sequences they find are more diverse than that and resemble more closely the so-called polytropic viruses, which is why they adopted the term MLV-related virus, for murine leukemia virus. “Let’s be clear: This is another virus. They did not confirm [Mikovits’s] results,” says retrovirologist Myra McClure of ICL, a co-author of one of the four negative studies…”