MLV stands for murine leukemia viruses. XMRV (xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus) is in the family of MLV's. While this study didn’t specifically find XMRV in patients or controls, the investigators are confident they are essentially looking at the same thing. As Dr. Harvey Alter explained to science reporter Mindy Kitei:
“Viruses tend not to be homogenous,” Alter explained to CFS Central in a telephone interview. “The fact that we didn’t find XMRV doesn’t bother me because we already knew that retroviruses tend to be variable. They mutate a lot, basically. This is true of HIV and HCV [hepatitis C virus]. It’s not one virus. It’s a family of viruses.” -- CFS CentralAlter also stated, "Our results clearly support the central argument by Lombardi et al. [the 2009 Science study], that MLV-related viruses are associated with CFS and are present in some blood donors."
I would love to write a brief, personal commentary on what I feel this may mean for us and for the future of ME/CFS research and treatment, or for those of us who DID test positive for XMRV... but I'm simply not well enough to do so right now. So, I'm going to share a bunch of links instead. :)
For the full paper, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), click here.
For two excellent summaries and commentary on the paper, visit:
Mindy Kitei's CFS Central
Cort Johnson's Phoenix Rising
The CFIDS Association of America has also created a short pictorial essay to help patients understand the relationship between XMRV, MLV's and gammaretroviruses. For a more in-depth analysis, read Another Turn of the Retrovirus Kaleidoscope.
Below are just some of the many news articles on the subject (there are currently over 300) :
The New York Times
The Wall Street Journal (August 23, 2010 article)
The Wall Street Journal (August 24, 2010 article)
The Wall Street Journal (August 25, 2010 article)
The LA Times
The 1st International Workshop on XMRV is scheduled to be held on September 7 and 8, 2010 in Bethesda, Maryland at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services' National Institutes of Health (NIH). Reportedly, more findings will be presented at this meeting.
Here's hoping this study helps propel us forward towards a better understanding of this illness, increased awareness of its complex and severely debilitating nature, and that it finally leads us to effective treatments in the near future. It's most certainly long overdue.
NOTE: This paper has since been retracted.