ME/CFS, XMRV and related MLV's

XMRV is an acronym for "xenotropic murine leukemia virus - related virus."  It came from mice ("murine"), but does not affect mice ("xenotropic," or replicating in species other than the original host species).  Some articles report XMRV as "recently discovered."  While it was was labeled a "new human retrovirus" in October 2008, "Xenotropic Murine Retrovirus" articles exist from the early 1980s. 

The virus XMRV has been found in a large percent of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) patients, though in limited studies which need replication.  XMRV is perhaps a significant factor in causing CFS.  Yet only correlation, not causation, seems to have been established. 

On October 8, 2009, XMRV made a big splash in CFS circles with online ScienceXpress publication of the article Detection of an Infectious Retrovirus, XMRV, in Blood Cells of Patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, written by collaborators from the Whittemore Peterson Institute (WPI), the National Cancer Institute, and the Cleveland Clinic.  Dr. Judy Mikovits, Director of Research at WPI, seems to be the lead spokesperson for the findings.  The news about CFS and XMRV has exploded into a flurry of articles and additional research activities.

XMRV is reported to be the third known infectious human retrovirus.  The other widely known is HIV, which causes AIDS.   How does a retrovirus differ from a non-retrovirus?  A simplistic answer, probably not nuanced enough for  a retrovirus expert, is regular viruses are bits of DNA that stimulate production of RNA, whereas retroviruses are bits of RNA that stimulate production of DNA -- which becomes incorporated into the host's DNA and perhaps can generate more of the RNA retrovirus.

Only time will tell if the reported correlation leads to the conclusion XMRV is involved in causation of CFS.  Perhaps XMRV only finds a friendly host in CFS patients.  If nothing else, XMRV may shed light on the 1980's "cluster outbreaks" of CFS illness in Incline Village, NV, with Drs. Paul Cheney and Dan Peterson present, and in Lyndonville, NY, with Dr. David Bell present.  It seems no coincidence this XMRV news brings these doctors to the forefront.

Dozens of links, including text articles, audio pieces, and video segments are categorized below. Links to earlier XMRV or MLV retrovirus articles are also available.

XMRV Positive Studies and Press Timeline

High Rate of Retrovirus in ME/CFS patients, also in general population:


June 1 2011 - More Doubt Cast on Study of Chronic Fatigue - Amy Dockser Marcus - Wall Street Journal

June 1 2011 - Two Studies Examine Syndrome of Fatigue/XMRV - David Tuller - New York Times

Jan 20 2011 - XMRV: Testing the Blood Supply -By Amy Dockser Marcus

March 7 2011 -XMRV and the Blood Supply: More Study Needed - Amy Dockster Marcus

February 17 2011 -XMRV: Study Shows Virus Can Cause 'Persistent Infection' in Monkeys - Amy Dockster Marcus

Dec 20 2010 - Retrovirology four papers - WSJ - Amy Marcus - XMRV: Raising the Issue of Contamination

Dec. 15 2010 - Update on the FDA Blood Working Group - CAA webinar - Cort Johnson

Dec. 3, 2010 – American Red Cross statement on XMRV and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Nov. 18, 2010 - Compositions and Methods Relating to XMRV-Related Diseases and Conditions. Patent that mentions an association between XMRV and several forms of cancer, including prostate and breast cancer.

Sept. 23, 2010 – 1st International Workshop on XMRV: Abstracts in Reviews in Antiviral Therapy & Infectious Diseases 2010_8. Abstracts

Sept. 17, 2010 – Distribution of xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV) infection in chronic fatigue syndrome and prostate cancer

Aug. 30, 2010 – Viruses Found in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Patients – National Institute of Health  NIH Research Matters

Aug. 23, 2010 - New Hope in Fatigue Fight Wall Street Journal

Aug. 23, 2010 – Detection of MLV-related virus gene sequences in blood of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome and healthy blood donors PNAS FDA Press Briefing

July 30, 2010 - Detection of an infectious retrovirus, XMRV, in blood cells of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome Virulence

July 14, 2010 - Delay in Release of Study on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Prompts an Outcry New York Times

July 8, 2010 - A Third Pathogenic and Lymphotropic Human Retrovirus AIDS Review

July 2, 2010 – WPI Statement on the CDC XMRV Study WPI Statement

July 2, 2010 – With Papers On Hold, Government Scientists Fuel Debate on Virus for Chronic Fatigue Science Magazine

May 18, 2010 – Whittemore Peterson Institute and Cerus Confirm Inactivation of XMRV by the INTERCEPT Blood System WPI Press Release

April 28, 2010 – Chronic fatigue link prompts blood ban The Sydney Morning Herald

Nov. 11, 2009 – A Big Splash From an Upstart Medical Center New York Times

Oct. 9, 2009 - Detection of an Infectious Retrovirus, XMRV, in Blood Cells of Patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Science

Oct. 8, 2009 – Whittemore Peterson Institute Scientists Discover Significant Link Between XMRV and ME/CFS  WPI Press Release

XMRV and other Diseases

Infectious retroviruses are known to cause cancers, neurological and immune system diseases. The most well-known example of this is HIV. The discovery of XMRV is following the same pattern of being found in people with a variety of diseases, in a higher rate than healthy controls. They all indicate much more research is needed to determine the total impact this virus is having on the public health, including clinical trials in people with ME/CFS, to determine whether it is the cause.
Neuro-immune Diseases:
  • Autism (see page 35) – 82% of patients with relatives with neuro-immune disease, such as ME/CFS  – Whittemore Peterson Institute (abstract for unpublished study, presented at International XMRV Conference)
  • Niemann Pick type C Disease (see page 35) – Found in two twins with the disease (abstract for unpublished study, presented at International XMRV Conference)

Initial Press Releases:
National Institutes of Health -- overview
1. Whittemore Peterson Institute for Neuro-Immune Disease (Reno, NV); WPI Research Team
2. Cleveland Clinic (Ohio)
3. National Cancer Institute (Bethesda, MD)
Associated Video Interviews:
    Dr. Mikovits & Ms. Whittemore, Part 1, -- 10/08/2009; YouTube Video, 7 minutes
    Dr. Mikovits & Ms. Whittemore, Part 2, -- 10/08/2009; YouTube Video, 6 minutes
        (the above part 2 video comments briefly about Fibromyalgia, 5:00-5:25)
    Dr. Mikovits interviewed in lab about XRMV -- 10/12/2009, YouTube Video, 2.5 minutes
        (above includes mention at end of Fibromyalgia and Gulf War Syndrome)
    WPI XMRV Research Overview -- mentions Fibromyalgia

Abstracts of Underlying Scientific Articles:
    (with the articles available for a fee using the left side links):
Detection of an Infectious Retrovirus, XMRV, in Blood Cells of Patients with CFS
    (Consortium of authors, including Dr. Mikovits, apparently WPI Director of Research)
A New Virus for Old Diseases?  (Dr. John Coffin, et. al.)

Initial Reaction by various News Channels:
Note:  at some point, all these were available for no fee.  Sometimes they change back and forth from being free to being available for a fee.
CFS/Fibromyalgia News Outlets
    CFIDS Association of America  -- Landmark CFS research reported in Science Magazine
    About ME/CFS (Phoenix Rising) -- Game Changer: Retrovirus Found in CFS Patients
                                                           This page by Cort Johnson is an entry point to a
                                                            large amount of additional resources about XMRV.                   -- WPI Update: 95% of CFS Patients Positive for XMRV Antibodies
                                                          (mentions Fibromyalgia in the thrid and tenth paragraphs)                          -- XMRV Discovery Series Index
        XMRV and Fibromyalgia   -- The XMRV Retrovirus & the Fibromyalgia Connection
Scientific News Outlets
    Scientific American              -- Retrovirus Linked to CFS, Could Aid in Diagnosis               -- Retrovirus Might be Culprit in CFS                -- CFS linked to 'cancer virus'
Mainstream News Outlets:
    Wall Street Journal              -- Cancer-Causing Virus Linked to Chronic Fatigue
    Los Angeles Times              -- Virus Discovery called breakthrough in fight against CFS
    US News and World Report  -- Retrovirus May be at Root of CFS
    CBS News (from AP)            -- Study Links Virus to CFS
    Reuters                               -- Study isolates virus in chronic fatigue sufferers
    BBC News                           -- ME virus discovery raises hopes
    New York Times (Oct 8)        -- Virus is Found in Many with CFS
    New York TImes (Oct 12, #1) -- Is a Virus the Cause of Fatigue Syndrome?
    New York TImes (Oct 12, #2) -- Chronic Fatigue Sufferers Find Vindication in a Virus,
                                                      with 245+ comments
    New York TImes (Oct 15)      -- Readers Ask:  A Virus Linked to CFS,
                                                      Q/A with Dr. Nancy Klimas, with 65+ comments                 -- comments about Dr. Klimas and the above Q/A article
    New York TImes (Oct 20)      -- OP-ED:  A Case of Chronic Denial,
                                                      by Hillary Johnson; Osler's Web author
    New York TImes (Nov 11)      -- A Big Splash From an Upstart Medical Center
From Oversees: 
    ME Research, UK                                       -- a great Overview Article about XMRV
    Dr. Mikovits talks with an English interviewer -- 10/09/2009, YouTube Video, 3 minutes
    Congratulations from Europe

Comments by various Medical Experts:
    Dr. David Bell --
        October 2009 Lyndonville News -- Initial Reaction
        November 2009 Lyndonville News -- Connecting the Dots
    Dr. Paul Cheney  (with references added)
    Dr. Nancy Klimas            -- applying good science to XMRV (Video - 5.7 minutes)
    Dr. Nancy Klimas            -- News interview, 11/13/2009 (YouTube Video - 5.3 minutes)
    Dr. Daniel Peterson         -- WPI Q/A (reported to have been written by Dr. Peterson)
    Dr. Suzanne Vernon        -- from the Scientific Director, CFIDS Association of America
    Gordon Medical Assoc.   -- XMRV Related to CFS
    NPR Text Transcripts, with links to audio pieces:  (All: "Virus Linked/Tied to CFS")
        All Things Considered, with Dr. Coffin, Oct 8    (with 3.5 minute audio link)
        Morning Edition, with Dr. Peterson, Oct 9        (with 4.5 minute audio link)
        Talk of the Nation, Science Friday                   -- Abstract to next item...
        Talk of the Nation, Science Friday, Oct 16      (text transcript or 10.5 minute audio link)
            with Retrovirus expert Dr. John Coffin -- see Virus Tied to Chornic Fatigue Syndrome
CFS Advisory Committee (CFSAC) Meeting -- Oct 29-30, 2009:
CFSAC Explanation  ---  Oct 2009 Meeting Agenda  --- Roster of Members
1st day of CFSAC Meeting; Oct 29 Video (6.75 hours total) -- Real Player in browser
    alternate link to whole Oct 29 Video -- brings up Real Player directly
    Significant excerpts:
        Dr. Daniel Peterson, XMRV Association with CFS, at 1:23:30 to 1:51:40 (28 minutes)
        Ms. Whittemore, about XMRV, WPI, and CFS,       at 1:57:38 to 2:03:15 (5.5 minutes)
        Dr. John Coffin, 40-year retrovirus expert,               at 2:04:00 to 2:28:50 (25 minutes)
        Dr. Peterson and Dr. Coffin, Q/A session,             at 2:28:50 to 3:09:20 (41 minutes)
        Alternate Youtube Video Access, with excerpts not so precisely chosen:
            Dr. Daniel PetersonPart 1 (10:18), Part 2 (10:22), Part   3 (10:45)
            Ms. Whittemore:        Part 4 (10:08),
            Dr. John Coffin:          Part 5 (10:28), Part 6 (08:11), Part   7 (10:21)
            Q/A session:               Part 8 (09:59), Part 9 (10:21), Part 10 (09:48), Part 11 (06:16)
2nd day of CFSAC Meeting; Oct 30 Video (5.25 hours total) -- Real Player in browser
    alternate to whole Oct 30 Video -- brings up Real Player directly
    Significant excerpts:
        Dr. Jerry Homeberg, Sr. Advisor for Blood Policy, at 2:00:50 to 2:06:54  (6 minutes)
        Q/A session
regarding XMRV in the blood supply,   at 2:06:54 to 2:21:45 (15 minutes)
    Side Topic -- Education of Medical Professionals about CFS:
        Dr. Ken Friedman, med schools against CFS education, at 48:48 to 55:00 (6 minutes)
             Transcript of Dr. Friedman's comments
        Jason and Artman, problem of finding CFS doctors, at 3:33:15 to 3:37:45 (4.5 minutes)
        Batman, Klimas, Healy, CFS education resolution,  at 3:51:35 to 3:56:30 (5 minutes)

XMRV Test Availability:
     VIP Dx XMRV Test Prodedure and Cost

Web Pages with many Additional Links: 
    For readers who want to dig further...  (Includes repeats of many links already on this page.)
    WPI's Set of links
    OFFER Utah's set of links
    From England's "ME Agenda":  (with their "Media Round Ups" 1 to 13)
         1:  WPI CFS link to retrovirus
         2:  Science 9 October 2009:  WPI CFS to retrovirus
         3:  WPI CFS retrovirus XMRV in the media 
         4:  XMRV Retrovirus: WPI CFS study
         5:  Supporting Online Material for XMRV CFS study
         6:  XMRV Retrovirus: WPI CFS study: Videos and audios
         7:  XMRV Retrovirus: WPI: CFS
         8:  XMRV retrovirus study: Position statement from ME Association
         9:  Notice from Dr David Bell; Article by Paul R. Cheney MD, PhD
        10: WPI XMRV retrovirus study link with CFS (Science journal)
        11: XMRV Retrovirus WPI CFS study Media Round up 11
        12: XMRV Retrovirus Whittemore Peterson CFS study 
        13: NIH $1.6 Million award for ME/CFS Research for Drs. Mikovits & Kerr 
        XMRV tests and testing

Historical Perspective papers (about XMRV or XM retrovirus):
    Oct 2008, XMRV as "New Human Retrovirus" -- 14 page PDF file
    Mar 1981 XM retrovirus -- 6 page PDF file -- just to show XM retrovirus isn't new in the world
    Aug 1981 XM retrovirus -- 6 page PDF file -- just to show XM retrovirus isn't new in the world

For more general information about WPI:
    Mission Statement   plus  Additional Details
    Dr. Mikovits and Ms. Whittemore -- 03/12/09 about WPI; YouTube Video -- 28 minutes total
            Relevant Interview Segments are at 2:45-8:00 and 10:30-16:50.

January 2010 Updates:

    CAA overview of initial XMRV findings:  Landmark CFS Research reported in Science Magazine
    New UK Article:  Failure to Detect ... XMRV in CFS
         CAA Analysis (explaining UK failure):  ... Need for Robust Replication Study
    U.S. H.H.S.  XMRV Scientific Activities 
         10/30/09 Stmt of U.S. O.P.H.S. about XMRV and the Blood Supply 
    Mary Schweitzer's Primer for XMRV and XAND 
    10/17/09 Dr. Nancy Klimas CFIDS/FMS Lecture


Note: The Rocky Mounatain CFIDS/FMS Association does not dispense medical advice nor recommend or endorse any practice, product, service, test, treatment, or medical hypothesis, and assumes no responsibility for actions undertaken by members or visitors.  For medical advice, please consult your doctor.



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