Searching for the cause of chronic fatigue syndrome: XMRV turns out to be another blind alley

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) causes severe fatigue that can last for months at a time. CFS is difficult to diagnose and even more difficult to treat, and its cause has long been a mystery. In 2009, in an apparent breakthrough, scientists reported that a virus found in mice, called XMRV, might be the long-sought cause of chronic fatigue. Their results were reported, with great fanfare, by Judy Mikovits and colleagues in the journal Science (Lombardi et al., Science 2009;326:585), with reports in respected outlets such as the New York Times making it seem that the answer had been found.

Now it turns out that, like many initially exciting reports, this one has a much more mundane explanation: contamination.

As happens all too often when a "surprising" discovery is announced, the result turns out to be an experimental error. Contamination is a common type of error in modern molecular genetics, because nothing is actually visible to the naked eye, and we have to rely on very sensitive methods (such as PCR) to detect what is present. In this case, the experimenters had a common mouse cell line in their lab (not unusual), and it turns out these mouse cells were contaminated with a virus called MLV, which looks a lot like XMRV.

The new study by Hue et al. from University College London (Retrovirology 2010, 7:111) is titled "Disease-associated XMRV sequences are consistent with laboratory contamination." The title pretty much tells the story, but here's a brief synopsis.

XMRV (Xenotropic murine leukaemia virus-related virus) is the virus in question - the one that Mikovits claimed is the cause of chronic fatigue syndrome. It's a retrovirus, and it is very similar to another mouse virus called MLV-X. It turns out the the PCR method for detecting XMRV uses short DNA sequences ("primers") that will also detect MLV-X. These primers were previously believed to be specific to XMRV, but they're not. Therefore, if you are looking for XMRV in a tissue sample, and the sample contains MLV-X, you'll think you found XMRV. But what: why would human patients have MLV-X? Perhaps MLV-X is a cause of chronic fatigue? Good question.

Well, it turns out that a common tumor cell line called 22Rv1 is infected with MLV-X. It also turns out that all the XMRV sequences from human patients are far more similar to the exact same strain of MLV-X that is in the mouse cell line. The tumor cell line was in the lab doing the experiments: ergo, it's contamination. Elementary, my dear Watson. Or, as Hue et al put it:
"We provide several independent lines of evidence that XMRV detected by sensitive PCR methods in patient samples is the likely result of PCR contamination with mouse DNA.... We propose that XMRV might not be a genuine human pathogen."
The initial Science paper by Mikovits and colleagues generated three published "Comments" in the journal, an unusually high number, which alone is enough to raise some red flags. The comments pointed out multiple methodological problems, including the possibility of contamination. In one of them, the authors (van der Meet et al) warned that
"Over the past few decades, we have witnessed a long series of papers claiming the discovery of the cause of CFS. None of these claims has been confirmed. Each time, this gives false hopes to large numbers of patients who seek a solution for their suffering. Shortcomings in the study by Lombardiet al. now raise concerns about the role of XMRV in the pathogenesis of CFS."
After the 2009 Science paper, several other studies looked at patients with chronic fatigue syndrome and failed to find anyone with XMRV (for example, this study from the CDC last summer). This was strikingly different from Mikovits' report that 67% of patients had XMRV. The latest report, by explaining where the false positive results came from, should put the final nail in the coffin for the XMRV hypothesis.

In retrospect, Science shouldn't have published the flawed study, and you could argue that peer review failed. On the other hand, the final resolution illustrates the self-correcting mechanism of science at its best. All of this is very reminiscent of the scientific response to Andrew Wakefield's notorious 1998 study claiming that autism was associated with the MMR vaccine: multiple followup studies, most of them conducted far more carefully, failed to reproduce the results. But in that case, bad scientists (Wakefield) aided by gullible journalists and non-scientists (Jenny McCarthy, Jay Gordon) have kept the story alive, causing continuing damage to children in the form of preventable illnesses and even deaths. Even after the story last week in the journal BMJ that explained Wakefield's outright fraud, he continues to push his discredited notions. (I love the title of the BMJ's editorial: "Wakefield's article linking MMR vaccine and autism was fraudulent.")

CFS has less visibility than autism, so I hope that scientific evidence will carry the day here. We still need to find the cause of chronic fatigue syndrome, and there's no telling right now where the answer lies.


  1. Stop spreading this false information. The study in question, Hue et al. never stated that XMRV was mouse contamination. Nor did it tackle the other variants of this virus. You have no right to try and restrict research into the association of this retrovirus with ME/CFS or prostate caner, the other disease it is linked to, but which isn't the target of the false press release. If it were a contaminant XMRV would also cease to be linked to prostate cancer. This is propaganda. Please reader the study this is referencing and then removed this article.

    Please sign this petition

  2. The second positive study was published on the 23 August 2010, by the NIH and FDA. The first one was a joint study by the WPI, NCI and Cleveland clinic, who discovered the retrovirus.

  3. You are deleting comments, and trying to hide the truth

  4. In retrospect, Science shouldn't have published the flawed study, and you could argue that peer review failed. On the other hand, the final resolution illustrates the self-correcting mechanism of science at its best. All of this is very reminiscent of the scientific response to Andrew Wakefield's notorious 1998 study claiming that autism was associated with the MMR vaccine: multiple followup studies, most of them conducted far more carefully, failed to reproduce the results. But in that case, bad scientists (Wakefield) aided by gullible journalists and non-scientists (Jenny McCarthy, Jay Gordon) have kept the story alive, causing continuing damage to children in the form of preventable illnesses and even deaths. Even after the story last week in the journal BMJ that explained Wakefield's outright fraud, he continues to push his discredited notions. (I love the title of the BMJ's editorial: "Wakefield's article linking MMR vaccine and autism was fraudulent.")

  5. The counterargument from WPI:

    "We identified a human antibody response to a gamma retroviral infection and we demonstrated that live gamma retrovirus isolated from human blood could infect human cells in culture. These scientific findings cannot be explained by contamination with mXMRV-related virus-contaminated human tumor cells."

    How do you respond to this? The "contamination" studies only found that it is possible in general for contamination to influence PCR results. It says nothing about the other testing methods.

  6. 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, others have already retracted such as Chicago Tribune:,0,1990620.story

    Thanks in advance
    CFS Patient

  7. So why are you ignoring the positive NIH/FDA/Harvard study published in PNAS 8/2010?

    Did you know that the US government has assembled 2 groups, the Blood Working Group and the Lipkin Group, to determine whether XMRV is present in CFS and in our blood supply?

    Did you know Canada, UK, and Australia have banned blood donations by CFS patients indefinitely? Did you know the FDA and American Red Cross have recommended the same?

    Did you know you're a bad reporter?

  8. Hue et al. never said XMRV was mouse contamination, end of.


    Finally, Amy Dockser Marcus of the Wall Street Journal, who has followed XMRV closely, was troubled with she read the Retroviology papers.
    She wrote: "John M. Coffin, a retrovirologist and a co-author of two of today’s Retrovirology papers, [stated] that while his groups’ studies demonstrated that mouse DNA is everywhere in labs, none of today’s published papers 'definitively show that any prior study is wrong.' Robert A. Smith, a research assistant professor at University of Washington in Seattle who wrote a commentary in Retrovirology summarizing the studies, [stated] that the possibility of contamination means that future studies must be done very carefully ... he said he is unwilling to state that the reported link between XMRV and CFS or prostate cancer is no longer viable."

    As you see, some of the very researchers involved with the Retrovirology studies don't agree with the claims in the press release. On the other hand, your piece repeats these claims without question.

    Finally, Marcus reported that "Judy Mikovits [of Lombardi et. al] ... said her team was able to culture XMRV from the patients’ blood and show antibody responses indicating they had been exposed to XMRV at some point. 'You will not make an immune response to a lab contaminant,' she told Health Blog."

    With all this in mind, I'd say that you missed thos story by a mile. If only there was a "self-correcting mechanism" for the damage you have done.

    Slow Descent


    Your piece reflects the overstated case in the press release about the Retrovirology papers, not the papers themselves.

    If, as you state, you respect the New York Times, you should be aware of David Tuller's piece on January 3/11, which reported grave doubts about the conclusions you find so credible.

    The studies in Retrovirology identified the weakness of the PCR assay in identifying XMRV. It made no comment at all on the paper in Science (Lombardi et al), which used three additional methods of detections, and (aware of all the potential flaws reported in Retrovirology) took careful precautions against them.

    According to retrovirologist, Dr. Vincent Racaniello, the studies in Retrovirology “show that identification of XMRV can be fraught with contamination problems, but they do not imply that previously published studies are compromised.” (Note "studies," plural. Racaniello is referring to not only Lombardi et. al in Science, but Alter and Lo in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. Failure to address this second paper is a flaw in your piece.) CONTINUE TO PART TWO

  11. Steven Salzberg is such a science pro. Did he even go to college? or is he just naturally smart? Wake up buddy, the world is not flat. The original XMRV study incorporated four different types of testing, not just PCR. One patient may have been negative by PCR, but positive for antibodies. This study you are referring to only used PCR. Next time try interviewing a severe CFS patient and write about the "Living Hell" this illness is. You dont know pain until you have CFS. Ive been sick and suffering 6 years now and in that time I have not had a 1 minute break from pain. Do us a favor next time...

  12. Anonymous 2 above writes that "Hue et al never said XMRV was mouse contamination, end of." Here's a quote from Hue et al: "XMRV detected by sensitive PCR methods in patient samples is the likely result of PCR contamination with mouse DNA." Doesn't get much clearer than that.

    Anonymous 1 above seems to confuse refutation of the XMRV hypothesis with some kind of denial of CFS. On the contrary, I think CFS is real and very serious. That's why we need to move on to other hypotheses, now that XMRV has failed the scrutiny of further scientific studies.

  13. No Scientific BackgroundJanuary 9, 2011 at 6:50 PM

    So no mention of Lo et al, yet the hypothesis is a failure. When not even one of the further studies that offered scrutiny studied the same patient cohort as WPI.

    Wouldn't you at least want to address the sorts of issues you chose to leave out before issuing such a proclamation?

  14. Quote: “A strong argument that the novel human retrovirus XMRV is not a laboratory contaminant is the finding that viral DNA is integrated in chromosomal DNA of prostate tumors. Why does this result constitute such strong proof of viral infection?

    Establishment of an integrated copy of the viral genome – the provirus – is a critical step in the life cycle of retroviruses. Proviral DNA is transcribed by cellular RNA polymerase II to produce the viral RNA genome and the mRNAs required to complete the replication cycle. Without proviral DNA, retroviral replication cannot proceed….”

    Read on……

  15. Steven Salzberg,

    Why do you get to decide that the XMRV hypothesis is false and that we need to move on to other hypothesis now?

    The US government has assembled the Blood Working Group and Lipkin study to finally settle whether XMRV exist in our blood supply and/or CFS. They should come to a conclusion within 6months. You are really jumping the gun here.

  16. Actually, there was nothing terribly surprising about the discovery of a new human retrovirus in a large majority of chronic fatigue syndrome patients. There have been strong hints of retroviral infection in the disease since the mid-1980s, when reverse transcriptase was identified in blood samples. In 1991, PNAS published sequences of a novel retrovirus in patients and their close contacts; that same year, retrovirologists in New Zealand found retroviral fragments in patients. The Science paper you think is an example of failed peer review actually underwent extensive peer review by the top MLV retrovirologists in the U.S. So far, not a single scientist or lab in the world has been able to suggest with any legitimacy that the Science data--any part of it--is faulty or requires retraction. Five countries have since banned blood donations from CFS sufferers on the basis of the Science data you think was a mistake. Suggest you read the Science paper and the PNAS paper of August by Lo et. al. to discover why and how you've got this story backwards. Also, for your future reference should you continue to opine on this topic, CFS is a neurodegenerative disease marked by multiple opportunistic infections, immune system destruction and high rates of lymphoma/leukemia that lasts not for months, as you state, but forever once acquired.

  17. Hilary: although a retrovirus may be involved in CFS, the collection of recent results on XMRV suggestion contamination is a more likely explanation. One of the technical comments in Science in 2010 (Lloyd et al, 14 May 2010, p. 825) pointed out that "Experienced CFS researchers will remember the 1991 “discovery” of an HTLV-2–like retrovirus in CFS (2), which subsequent studies failed to replicate (3–6)." Lloyd et al go on to warn that CFS is probably much more complicated, involving genes and environment:

    "CFS is likely to arise from complex genes-x-environment risk factors, making a simple causative link between XMRV and CFS unlikely. Even if confirmed, further research will be needed to demonstrate causality. In relation to prostate cancer, with which a comparable association with XMRV was reported (8), negative replication studies are mounting (9). Similarly, three negative replication studies in well-characterized cases of CFS have now been published (10–12). This outcome serves as a cogent reminder of the need for independent replication before findings such as this can be accepted."

  18. Steven Salzberg

    Quote from Hue et al. "XMRV detected by sensitive PCR methods in patient samples is the likely result of PCR contamination with mouse DNA."

    You say: "Doesn't get much clearer than that."

    They said "likely", not proven. Do you know the difference. Can you even evaluate the contents of the paper? Is it going over your head.

  19. Let's take the opinion of the world's most respected virologists point of view on this, John Coffin, PhD, of Tufts University in Boston. who co-authored two of the papers you are referring to:

    "The argument for lab contamination as a source of XMRV is subtle and indirect, and not, in my opinion, conclusive," (Medpage Today '
    Contamination May Have Marred XMRV Studies' 21 Dec 2010)

    and this from Science, 7 Jan 2011.
    "But John Coffin of the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI) and Tufts University Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences in Boston, who co-authored two of the contam- ination papers, is wary.
    He says these studies “just point out how care- ful one must be.

    Doen't agree now does he.

  20. Sorry, the above should say one of the worlds most respected virologists.

  21. Sorry, to correct you again Steven Salzberg.

    ME/CFS has always been suspected to be caused by an infective agent, and indeed several times throughout history a retrovirus has been sought as the culprit. This is because ME/CFS shares may commonalities with those with other identified retroviruses.

    The comment in Science by Lloyd et al. on the research from 1991 would have no actual impact on current research into this retrovirus, as they are of a different type. It is this retrovirus that researchers around the world are continuing to study. Even the Wellcome Trust who put out a false press release will be continuing to study this retrovirus in humans, even though they have said it is a mouse retrovirus in the press release, not the paper, Hue et al.

    The closing statement from Lloyd et al. also uses the word "likely", not proven, but have you read any of the research that they are alluding to? For one thing, the authors of Lombardi et al. did not state that XMRV was the cause of ME/CFS, only that it was associated. Lloyd et al. also highlight that negative studies have no been published, but this is also the case for prostate cancer, and it was the case with HIV too. If you do not use the same methodology, you cannot claim to have a assay that works. Would you use a test for HIV to look for XMRV, no you would not. Finally there are more positive studies on the way.

  22. Anonymous said...
    One more interesting nugget of information on Lloyd et al.

    Andrew Lloyd is an immunologist
    Peter White is a psychiatrist
    Simon Wessely is a psychiatrist
    Michael Sharpe is a psychologist
    Dedra Buchwald is a MD

    None of them is a virologist, something which is important when commenting on a retrovirology paper. And Simon Wessley was declared to have left fatigue research about 10 years ago. How convenient that he appears at a time when he livelihood is in jeopardy.

  23. Sir (Professor of What?), I hope that you are just politically naive and innocently ignorant. Otherwise, it would seem that you are one of the denialists, and not an honest skeptic. In this blog entry you've just engaged in some abuse and distortion of science yourself. For one, the XMRV virus is not found in mice. They don't have a receptor for it - as per John Coffin. Perhaps you've heard of him?

    The contamination papers had and have nothing at all to say about the WPI/NCI/Cleveland Clinic study published in Science, which by the way, is in the top 10 of respected publications on science. Retrovirology, the publication that requires researchers to pay them to get published, has an impact factor of 11 vs the 29.7 of Science. Dr. Coffin also said of the WPI/Mikovits/Lombardi paper "It's as good as it gets for a first paper."

    The CDC's paper was also published by Retrovirology. Since they haven't been able, or haven't wanted, to find any biomedical cause for CFS in the last 26 years, it's not surprising they can't find XMRV or MLVs. They recently declared CFS to be caused by personality disorders. Their "study" found 30% of their "cohort" had personality disorders and came to the conclusion that causes CFS! Why don't you blog about that, Mr. Skeptic? You would find a great deal of abuse and distortion of science in the CDCs "research" on CFS.

    While you're being skeptical, why not mention that van der MeeR (not MeeT) was given samples by WPI, as requested, and refused to use them. WPI found positives in HIS samples, but he failed to mention that in his publication. By the way, he and his group have a history of claiming CFS is a mental illness, caused by "illness beliefs".

    Dr. Mikovits worked for the NIH on HIV/AIDS for 20 years. Her collaborator, Frank Ruscetti, still works there. They have never claimed XMRV causes ME/CFS, but their work and the work of Alter/Lo/Komaroff of FDA/NIH/Harvard do show a very strong association. Even a skeptic would want that association investigated thoroughly.

    Vincent Rancaniello, virologist, has issued a retraction and an apology for having been stampeded into issuing an obituary for XMRV research, based not on science but on the subsequent press releases

    When reviewing those researchers who couldn't find any XMRV, it would be good to remember that abscence of evidence is not evidence of abscence.

  24. Some quotes made by WPI's Judy Mikovits about her discovery to major media. All these articles are listed on the WPI's own website, but now they are saying that they've never said XMRV causes CFS. Huh?

    “But Dr. Mikovits said she thought the virus would turn out to be the cause, not just of chronic fatigue, but of other illnesses as well. Previous studies have found it in cells taken from prostate cancers.” New York Times on 10/8/09

    “[Dr. Mikovits] said she believed that the virus would eventually be found in every patient with chronic fatigue syndrome. XMRV affects the immune system, can probably cause a variety of illnesses and may join forces with other viruses to bring on the syndrome, she said.” New York Times on 10/12/09

    “What [Mikovits] found was live, or replicating, XMRV in both frozen and fresh blood and plasma, as well as saliva. She has found the virus in samples going back to 1984 and in nearly all the patients who developed cancer. She expects the positivity rate will be close to 100 percent in the disease.” New York Times (op-ed) on 10/20/09

    “Researcher Dr Judy Mikovits, of Whittemore Peterson Institute in Nevada, said: ‘With those numbers, I would say, yes, we've found the cause.’” Daily Mail on 10/10/09

    “Although the published data falls short of proving a definitive cause-and-effect, one of the scientists behind the study said last night that she was confident that further unpublished data she had gathered over the past few weeks implicated the retrovirus as an important and perhaps sole cause of the condition.” “With those numbers, I would say, yes we've found the cause of chronic fatigue syndrome. We also have data showing that the virus attacks the human immune system," said Dr Mikovits.” The Independent on 10/9/09

    “Dr. Mikovits said that using additional tests, the scientists determined that more than 95% of the patients in the study are either infected with live virus or are making antibodies that show their immune systems mounted an attack against XMRV and now had the virus under control. ‘Just like you cannot have AIDS without HIV, I believe you won't be able to find a case of chronic-fatigue syndrome without XMRV,’ Dr. Mikovits said.” Wall Street Journal (10/12/09)

  25. Steven,
    My name is spelled with two Ls.

    As to genes and environment: to quote Robt. Gallo quoting Lewis Thomas, "Multi-factorial is multi-ignorance." The quotes you cherry pick prove my point: no one has yet said the data in the Science paper is wrong or should be retracted or, as you claim, is a failure of peer review. The people you quote are merely speculating and their speculation is based on what they hope is true, not what is true. Read evolutionary biologist's Paul Ewald's "Plague Time" and consider what he has to say about contemporary chronic diseases and their causes.

  26. I've read the retraction of virologist Vincent Rancaniello (, and he doesn't really retract any of his technical comments, only his interpretation (or opinion) that the latest papers are "the beginning of the end of XMRV and CFS." He replaces that with the carefully-worded statement 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."

    Technically, that is accurate. But scientifically speaking, the new papers combined with multiple studies that found no evidence of CMRV in CFS patients represent strong evidence against the CMRV hypothesis.

  27. Scientifically speaking, all that this spate of papers represent is evidence that the scientists involved run sloppy labs and are unwilling or incapable of performing the experiments the Science authors performed in their effort to prove/or contradict their hypothesis that a majority of patients with cfs are infected with a newly discovered human retrovirus.

    Given your concern with peer review, failed or otherwise, it's worth considering that in an age when peer review is oftentimes sidestepped by paying a small sum for your paper to be published online in a matter of days, perhaps it's not the quantity of papers that counts but the quality of the papers. As one top HIV scientist who is among those heading up the XMRV effort at the National Cancer Institute told me, "We don't count negatives and positives--it's not an election, it's science."

  28. Steven,

    Please read what Dr Eric Klein(who first found XMRV in prostate cancer) of the cleveland clinic has to say about the contamination papers.

  29. You say "We still need to find the cause of chronic fatigue syndrome, and there's no telling right now where the answer lies."

    All the "evidence" you quoted came from people who tell us they already know the cause of CFS. It's all in the head according to those UK studies you find so persuasive, and according to the CDC. Why are you so stubbornly selective?

    If WPI hadn't found XMRV and related MLVs in CFS, we wouldn't be having this exchange today. You should take a hint from Dr. Harvey Alter, who previously knew nothing of CFS but now says that it is obviously of viral cause and if XMRV isn't it, we should find out which virus it is.

    Dr. Philip Lee, NIH, said essentially the same thing back in 1997 on Primetime Live, but CDC still did nothing but divert CFS research money.

    "No telling right now where the answer lies"? Actually, several physicians have already begun prescribing the antiretrovirals that Dr Ila Singh found to be effective against XMRV in vitro: AZT, Viread and Isentress.

    Patients and their doctors are reporting improvement as high as 100%. People disabled for years are going back to work. Not everyone is experiencing this, but that anyone is is stunning evidence of retroviral causation at least for some. Mikovits will share that in an XMRV update on Jan.17.

    Better pull that nail out of that coffin, sir. The patient that you've tried to bury alive is still breathing.

  30. Steven, you might want to check your facts.

    22Rv1 is not a mouse cell line.

    Several of the labs which reported the original science findings were clean - mouse/mouse cell line or prostate cancer research had never been done in their lab. So it was not the lab that was contaminated in the original Science article.

    You might want to actually read the original science paper in detail too, because you clearly haven't. In retrospect, it seems you don't understand the peer review process.

  31. Andrew: you are correct, 22Rv1 is a tumor cell line, not mouse. It was likely infected with the retrovirus, according to Hue et al., during mouse xenografting experiments. I've corrected my original text.

  32. @oerganix
    what doctors are recommending HAART for CFS?
    afaik most cfs specialists are not recommending that at this time.

  33. One should recall the similarities of discovering HIV and how it was first reported in Science:

    "In 1983, two separate research groups led by Robert Gallo and Luc Montagnier independently declared that a novel retrovirus may have been infecting AIDS patients, and published their findings in the same issue of the journal Science.[195][196] Gallo claimed that a virus his group had isolated from an AIDS patient was strikingly similar in shape to other human T-lymphotropic viruses (HTLVs) his group had been the first to isolate. Gallo's group called their newly isolated virus HTLV-III. At the same time, Montagnier's group isolated a virus from a patient presenting lymphadenopathy (swelling of the lymph nodes) of the neck and physical weakness, two classic symptoms of AIDS. Contradicting the report from Gallo's group, Montagnier and his colleagues showed that core proteins of this virus were immunologically different from those of HTLV-I. Montagnier's group named their isolated virus lymphadenopathy-associated virus (LAV).[194] HIV was chosen as a compromise between the two claims (LAV and HTLV-III)."

    Does looking back at the historical discovery of HIV in AIDS sound familar to DeFreitas's HTLV-like MAV and XMRV/MLV's in ME/CFS?


    Contamination of clinical specimens with MLV-encoding nucleic acids: implications for XMRV and other candidate human retroviruses

  35. This is interesting, albeit not about XMRV:

    On a related note, this wsj writeup on the above paper says:

    Schutzer is also involved in a separate study looking for microbes — including the virus XMRV — in the spinal fluid of the 43 CFS patients. An abstract published earlier this month in Annals of Neurology reported that the team was unable to find XMRV in the spinal fluid of the CFS patients


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