Wednesday, 23 June 2010

XMRV - day of truth?

Hillary Johnson has just posted this on her Osler's Web site:

THE BIG ONE, JUNE 22, 2010:

I received a call today from an investigator at a major American university who is involved with XMRV research. He is the second reseacher-scientist to have advised me in as many weeks that a major research paper is about to be published in which the conclusions reached by the authors of the Science paper of October 9, 2009--which linked the gammaretrovirus XMRV to chronic fatigue syndrome and proved it was infectious--have been replicated. In addition, it seems the new data may be even stronger. In other words, the positivity rate among chronic fatigue syndrome patients may be significantly higher. In addition, silent or latent infections in the general population may be, in this new data, as much as twice as high as originally reported in Science.

The U.S. agencies involved are the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health. The paper is currently in press at a highly respected journal. There initially was some concern that senior staff at the Centers for Disease Control might try to suppress this paper by intimidating the editors at the journal. My source today scoffed at that notion and suggested the prestige of the journal is such that any effort to squelch the data would be quite difficult.

At least one of the investigators involved in this new study has had a long-standing interest in the etiology of chronic fatigue syndrome.

The scientists who collaborated on this new study did their work entirely independently of the authors of last October's groundbreaking 
Science paper.

Now comes this press release today from the Netherlands, titled, "FDA and NIH confirm 'XMRV' Findings."

Here is the 
link to the press release.

And here's the press release itself:

Original Press Release from the Netherlands: FDA and NIH confirm 'XMRV findings'

Gendringen, NL (MMD Newswire) June 22, 2010 -- The FDA and the NIH have independently confirmed the XMRV findings as published in Science, October last. This confirmation was issued by Dr. Harvey Alter of the NIH during a closed workshop on blood transfusion held on May 26-27 in Zagreb. Two journalists from the Dutch magazine for health professionals, ORTHO, who have been working on XMRV stories for several months, were able to obtain a copy of the Alter lecture.
In the October 8, 2009 issue of Science Express, the Lombardi-Mikovits group at the Whittemore Peterson Institute (WPI), the Cleveland Clinic and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) reported that 67% of 101 chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) patients tested positive for infection with xenotropic murine retrovirus (XMRV). Only 3.7% of 218 healthy subjects tested were positive for this gammaretrovirus. Since that time, a number of research groups have proved unable to independently confirm these findings.
On Friday last, the AABB released an Association Bulletin recommending that its member blood collectors actively discourage potential donors who have been diagnosed with CFS from donating blood or blood components. This interim measure was proposed by the AABB Interorganizational Task Force on XMRV. This Task Force includes representatives from several government agencies, including the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The fact that the measure was introduced suggests the presence of information not yet published. The ORTHO journalists were able to obtain a pdf document of the lecture given by Harvey Alter at the IPFA/PEI 17th Workshop on 'Surveillance and screening of Blood Borne Pathogens' in Zagreb. The International Plasma Fractionation Association (IPFA) represents the not-for-profit organizations around the world involved in plasma fractionation. The IPFA is based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
The highly-experienced Dr. Harvey Alter is Clinical Studies Chief at the Infectious Diseases and Immunogenetics Section of the Department of Transfusion Medicine at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda. "The data in the Lombardi, et al Science manuscript are extremely strong and likely true, despite the controversy", was one comment on the XMRV findings reported by Alter in Zagreb. "Although blood transmission to humans has not been proved, it is probable. The association with CFS is very strong, but causality not proved. XMRV and related MLVs are in the donor supply with an early prevalence estimate of 3%‐7%. We (FDA & NIH) have independently confirmed the Lombardi group findings."
ORTHO contacted Dr. Harvey Alter today for a reaction. He did not want to comment, but confirmed that a paper is soon to be published.

ORTHO is a Dutch magazine for health professionals focusing on nutrition and dietary supplements. ORTHO has been publishing reports on CFS since 1988. Editor-in-chief: Gert E. Schuitemaker (PhD). Tel: + 31 (0) 315 695211 / + 49 (0) 170 808 9484. E-mail:

I'm having some mixed reactions to this - though by far the most prominent is 'YESSS!!!'- so I'll chat about them a bit later when my brain settles down. Just had to pass this on as soon as I read about (thanks, Andrea!)

1 comment:

  1. I'm already gearing up for the inevitable attacks. But not much point in thinking about that until we've had a chance to learn more about the actual paper. Can't wait.