News24

Chronic fatigue syndrome - no virus link

2010-12-21 08:43

London - A virus previously thought to be linked to a baffling condition known as chronic fatigue syndrome is not the cause of the disease, scientists said on Monday after their study found previous research was contaminated in the lab.

Researchers from University College London, the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and Oxford University said cell samples from patients in earlier studies were contaminated with the virus, known as XMRV, which is found in the DNA of mice.

This suggests the patients were not infected with XMRV and it could not have triggered their illness, the scientists said.

The finding, published in the journal Retrovirology, is the latest to contradict a US study from 2009 which suggested a link between XMRV and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) when the virus was found in the blood of 68 out of 101 CFS patients.

The XMRV virus has also been identified in samples from certain prostate cancer patients.

"Our conclusion is quite simple: XMRV is not the cause of chronic fatigue syndrome," said Greg Towers, of UCL, who worked on the latest study. "All our evidence shows that the sequences from the virus genome in cell culture have contaminated human chronic fatigue syndrome and prostate cancer samples."

CFS is a debilitating condition of disabling physical and mental fatigue that does not improve with rest. It also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) and affects around 17 million people worldwide. 

No cure

There is no cure for CSF and scientists don't know what causes it, but many sufferers say they think their illness started after a viral infection.

Towers said it was vital to understand that this latest research did not suggest chronic fatigue syndrome is not caused by a virus of some sort.

"We cannot answer that yet," he said. "But we know it is not this virus causing it."

The 2009 US study that found a link had prompted hopes that CFS patients might benefit from a range of drugs designed to fight Aids, cancer and inflammation.

But in January 2010, British researchers found no evidence of XMRV in 186 patients with chronic fatigue syndrome, and two separate studies published in February also failed to identify the virus in groups of ME patients.

Towers' team said their study found that the XMRV found in the studies that linked it to CFS was from contamination by a laboratory cell line or mouse DNA.

The sequences from the contaminated cell line and chronic fatigue patient samples were very similar, they said, and this is contrary to what scientists would expect from a virus if it were spreading in humans.

Tim Peto, a consultant in infectious diseases at Oxford University who was not involved in the research, said Monday's findings meant "it now seems really very, very unlikely that XMRV is linked to chronic fatigue syndrome".

"It came as a great surprise when XMRV was first suggested as being linked to chronic fatigue syndrome," he said in an emailed statement.

"There have now been a number of attempts which have failed to find the retrovirus in other samples, and this research suggests that in fact XMRV is probably a contamination from mouse DNA."

Comments
  • Poaul Zwarts - 2010-12-21 09:24

    I very often find that patients with ME and the like tend to suffer more from psychiatric conditions, anxiety, depression etc. Nowadays I treat this condition like I would treat any other physical manifestation of depression, using the NSSRI group of anti-depressants (Cymbalta etc), and so far, I have had good results.

      oxygen - 2010-12-21 09:41

      ME and the like...fibromyalgia?

      Poaul Zwarts - 2010-12-21 12:21

      Absolutely

      Denise - 2010-12-29 18:08

      I was one of those ME sufferers who definitely did not have any sort of psychological episode. I suffered for 3 years with mind numbing chronic fatique and a host of other side effects that came and went as they pleased. All my blood work pointed out to different possibilities, but none was conclusive. In the end, what cured me was good sound nutrition, large dosis of B group vitamins and staying away from food additives like aspartame. Listening to my body was also high on the checklist. I fortunately did not have to succumb to mind altering drugs. I am not sure how this could be confused with a psychological condition, as most of the time, I had spikes in my temperature to proove an attack was in progress. Today I am back to my productive happy self. I thank my medical doctors who did not think that I had to lie on a couch and discuss my childhood,

      Kameomaua - 2011-09-22 22:41

      @ Denise I agree 100% with you. I have been suffering form M.E. for the past 22 years, and at the beginning I was also sent from pillar (counsellors) to post (psychiatrists), when I knew all along that I was not suffering from depression.

  • fvanemmenes - 2010-12-21 09:40

    I was a severe sufferer of CFS, so bad that I could not function any more. The answer does not lie in medicine - most CFS cases are as a result of Adrenal Fatigue - the adrenal glands are overworked and get "tired", affecting your Cortisol levels. Stop using refined sugars, caffeine and alcohol. Eat protein regularly, especcially in the morning, eat the correct foods often, take LOTS of Vit B5, as well as Ginseng. I did this on advice form a dietician and improved by 90% in a week!!!! Been OK for three years - if I eat correctly!!

      Jim - 2010-12-21 10:38

      can you recommend any dietary programs / links?

      Poaul Zwarts - 2010-12-21 12:28

      Why do you have to envoke a non-existant medical condition to inspire you to reduce stress, eat better and exercise? Its all common sense! (Now exactly how do refined sugars interact with your adrenal glands?) Vitamin B5 will only have an effect if there is a deficiency, or if you are taking medication effecting it (e.g. TB treatment). As far as Ginseng goes...

      Grazy - 2010-12-21 12:33

      I'm no medical expert, but just interested in anything. It might be a good thing to surf the net on Aspertami (spelling??) That is the normal little white pills you use to sweeten your tea, and also used in diet cooldrinks. The stuff was developed as ant poison and made more money as a sweetener. According to some knowlegable people it can turn into some very bad chemicals in the body. Some that can stiffen up the muscles and attack the nerves. Some bells ring about countries that are busy banning it now that I've read about. Hawai is one I think. Well, if someone have a problem like ME, it can do no damage to try and cut out the artificial sweetner for a month or so, and let us know what happen. It will be interesting.

      Derrick - 2010-12-21 12:51

      @ Poaul: Whether it existed or it didn't, the fact of the matter is it's working for them and giving them the inspiration to contiune eating and living healthy. They might not need the extra vitamins, but no harm in having a little extra of the "B" range.

      Tigra - 2010-12-21 14:05

      @Grazy - Aspartame is one of the food additives that has been researched extensively. It has been proven safe by peer-reviewed research studies. People claiming that it is dangerous can never produce peer-reviewed research to prove that it's dangerous.

      Grazy - 2010-12-21 20:47

      @Tigra Thanks for the response on my comment. As I say, I do dig into all funny and not so funny stuff and Aspertame came up very suspisios and protected. I for one will rather not use it because I believe with the amount of fighting going on over it, were there is smoke, there must be a fire. Anyway, sugar is cheaper and a natural product, so I stay with that with no problem. I do not critsise your opinion at all, just my feeling about it. :)Just wish I could send you some of the articles that I've collected on it, writen by some knowlegable people.

  • jtaljard - 2010-12-21 12:33

    Yes, the body is way overworked and is the result of the poor nutritional quality of the fresh fruit and veggies we get in the shops today. By improving the communication system of the body by means of a proper glyconutritional supplement the body can then get back to doing what its supposed to more efficiently and effectively.

  • Xand - 2010-12-29 18:13

    Dear Sirs: Please bear in mind that this information you are giving is 100% WRONG. There was an orchestrated effort to publish 4 studies in “Retrovirology” in the same day claiming that previous studies on XMRV were fruit of lab contamination. Nevertheless the truth of the matter was that these four Retrovirology papers show that identification of XMRV can be fraught with contamination problems, but they do not imply that previously published studies are compromised by these findings. Previous studies used 4 different methods of detection, not only PCR, besides they isolated the virus and found an immune response and antibodies which could not be possible if it was lab contamination. The conclusion is that these four papers point out how identification of XMRV from human specimens can be complicated by contamination, but they do not mean that previous studies were compromised. They serve as an important reminder that future experiments to identify XMRV need to be appropriately controlled to ensure that the results are not compromised by contamination. XMRV has been linked to cancer and ME/CFS and is estimated that 7% of population carry this retrovirus of unknown pathogenic potential. Red Cross has banned CFS patients to donate blood until the role of XMRV is clarified to protect the blood supply. Many countries are following Red Cross policy such as Belgium, USA, Australia, Canada, New Zeland, UK, Norway, Malta, Japan… This is a major public health concern with a size higher than the aids epidemic in Africa. Please do retract yourself in this statements you make in this article, as it affect negatively the truth surrounding the whole matter that affects 17 million sick patients and millions that are not yet sick. The letter you received from Vincent Racaniello is not enough, there should be an amendment in the original article outlined above. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/letters/chi-101223racaniello_briefs,0,1990620.story Thanks in advance and Merry Christmas Carlos Gonzalez

  • Xand - 2010-12-29 18:13

    Dear Sirs: Please bear in mind that this information you are giving is 100% WRONG. There was an orchestrated effort to publish 4 studies in “Retrovirology” in the same day claiming that previous studies on XMRV were fruit of lab contamination. Nevertheless the truth of the matter was that these four Retrovirology papers show that identification of XMRV can be fraught with contamination problems, but they do not imply that previously published studies are compromised by these findings. Previous studies used 4 different methods of detection, not only PCR, besides they isolated the virus and found an immune response and antibodies which could not be possible if it was lab contamination. The conclusion is that these four papers point out how identification of XMRV from human specimens can be complicated by contamination, but they do not mean that previous studies were compromised. They serve as an important reminder that future experiments to identify XMRV need to be appropriately controlled to ensure that the results are not compromised by contamination. XMRV has been linked to cancer and ME/CFS and is estimated that 7% of population carry this retrovirus of unknown pathogenic potential. Red Cross has banned CFS patients to donate blood until the role of XMRV is clarified to protect the blood supply. Many countries are following Red Cross policy such as Belgium, USA, Australia, Canada, New Zeland, UK, Norway, Malta, Japan… This is a major public health concern with a size higher than the aids epidemic in Africa. Please do retract yourself in this statements you make in this article, as it affect negatively the truth surrounding the whole matter that affects 17 million sick patients and millions that are not yet sick. The letter you received from Vincent Racaniello is not enough, there should be an amendment in the original article outlined above. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/letters/chi-101223racaniello_briefs,0,1990620.story Thanks in advance and Merry Christmas Carlos

  • Greg - 2010-12-29 19:03

    Unfortunately the answer for a lot of chronic fatigue sufferers is hiding in plain site. I had chronic fatigue for 7 years, I went through every kind of test imaginable. One of the tests was for mercury and it came back with very low results, unfortunately what most doctors don't know is that low results are actually an indicator of mercury poisoning. I wrote off heavy metal poisoning for years because of this test, I found out five years later that this was the problem. There is no definitive test for mercury body burden. A great diet, vitamin B, adrenal supplements and antidepressants are all great for holding ourselves together, but they don't cure the problem, which is poison. I expect most people to be skeptical, but if you have suffered for as long as i have you no doubt will be able to open your mind to the possibility. The best place for information is a yahoo group called frequent dose chelation, you can find a pretty simple test for heavy metal poisoning which tests for deranged mineral transport. Its not perfect but its the best test out there. There are also hundreds of people on the forum all slowly curing themselves from chronic fatigue and other ailments who are more than willing to help you out. I'm not asking any of you to believe me, just have a look for yourself, make up your own mind, it took me seven years, hopefully you won't be as slow as i was :)

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