Posts Tagged ‘Chronic Fatigue Syndrome’

Chronic Fatigue SyndromeThe New York Times (10/9, A14, Grady) reports that chronic fatigue syndrome “has long been a mystery ailment, and patients have sometimes been suspected of malingering or having psychiatric problems rather than genuine physical ones.” Now, however, scientists are saying that many sufferers are “infected with a little known virus that may cause or at least contribute to their illness” — the xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV).  Just last month, another group of researchers isolated the retrovirus in prostate tumor samples from patients harboring a specific genetic mutation, according to the Wall Street Journal (10/9, A4, Marcus). They also spotted it among a small percentage of benign samples, and it has been associated with some blood cancers. However, the team comprised of scientists from the National Cancer Institute and the Whittemore Peterson Institute is the first to identify trace amounts of live XMRV in humans.  Indeed, CFS “has been theoretically linked to a variety of other viruses, including Epstein-Barr virus and human herpes virus 6, but none have been found in a significant proportion of patients,” the Los Angeles Times (10/9, Maugh) reports. “Today’s findings,” however, “could explain why.”  Bloomberg News (10/9, Waters) reports that investigators began their work by analyzing “the genes in samples of tissue collected from 101 patients with chronic fatigue.” They eventually “found the virus in 68 of the samples, as compared with only eight samples in 218 healthy patients (67 percent versus 3.7 percent),” HealthDay (10/8, Gardner) reported. “Although 3.7 percent seems a small proportion, the authors do note that this could mean millions of people are infected with a virus whose effects are as yet unknown.” This raises concerns, because patients with retroviral infections are difficult, if not impossible, to cure, “because the virus DNA becomes part of the infected person’s DNA.” However, “XMRV is simpler than HIV,” says Robert H. Silverman, PhD, of the Cleveland Clinic, one of the retrovirus’ co-discoverers. In other words, it probably could be stopped “with an antiretroviral” medication.  WebMD (10/8, DeNoon), the AP (10/9), AFP (10/9), and Reuters (10/9, Morgan) also cover the study, as did the Washington Post (10/8, Stein) “The Checkup” blog.

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