In what may prove to be the first major breakthrough in the fight against the mysterious disorder known as "chronic fatigue syndrome" (CFS), researchers reported Thursday that they have found traces of a virus in the majority of patients with the disease.
of the very few tested.... See the small numbers listed below. LV
The same virus has previously been identified in at least a quarter of prostate tumors, particularly those that are very aggressive, and has also been linked to certain types of cancers of the blood.
It remains possible that the virus, known as xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus, or XMVR, is a passenger virus that infects patients whose immune systems have been suppressed by other causes.
But the new findings were sufficiently startling that the National Cancer Institute called together a group of experts in August to consider its potential effect on public health.
"We are in the very early days," said Stuart LeGrice, director of the National Cancer Institute's Center of Excellence in HIV/AIDS and Cancer Virology, who organized the meeting but was not involved in the new study. "The data need to be confirmed and repeated. ... We need to know that it is a cause and not just a passenger. In a sense, we are at the same stage as we were when HIV was first discovered. Hopefully, we can take advantage of what we learned from working with it."
Chronic fatigue syndrome, which affects at least 1 million Americans and more than 17 million people worldwide, is characterized by debilitating fatigue, chronic pain and depression, as well as other symptoms.
I have no idea where these numbers come from, but they continue to grow exponentially with each publication:( LV
Many doctors have argued that it is not a real disorder because there have previously been no biochemical markers that characterize it. The only effective treatments are behavioral changes and antidepressants, and they are of limited benefit.
CFS has been theoretically linked to a variety of other viruses, including Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and human herpesvirus-6, but none has been found in a significant proportion of patients. Thursday's findings could explain why. Like HIV, which causes a constellation of symptoms, XMRV is a retrovirus, and retroviruses are known to suppress the immune system, making it easier for other viruses to establish themselves in a human body.
NOTE: ME, G93.3, has long been thought to be caused by an enterovirus.... LV
Dr. William Reeves, who heads CFS research at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cautioned against racing to any conclusions based on the new findings, even though he characterized them as promising.
"It is almost unheard of to find an association of this magnitude in any study of an infectious agent and a well-defined disease, much less an (ill-defined) illness like chronic fatigue syndrome," he wrote in an e-mail.
And actually, CFS remains a 'syndrome' - not an illness, or a disease (according to the WHO vernacular). LV
It is extremely difficult to prove causation with a ubiquitous virus like XMRV, and it "is even more difficult in the case of CFS, which represents a clinically and epidemiologically complex illness," he added.
Oh, but CFS is NOT a clinically and epidemiologically complex illness. It's really quite tiny. Read what it is, and isn't, at:
The ever-increasing numbers of patients being given that label of 'CFS' actually--when tested and evaluated much more thoroughly--are proving to have many, many other maladies and illnesses, instead. And THAT is at the CRUX of this confused debacle!! LV
The new study was organized by Judy Mikovits, director of research at the Whittemore Peterson Institute, a CFS-oriented facility on the campus of the University of Nevada, Reno.
The team reported in the online version of the journal Science that they found the virus in 68 of 101 blood samples from patients with CFS, but in only eight of 218 healthy patients.
A very tiny and introductory study only. LV
In a telephone interview, Mikovits said they have also found antibodies against the virus in 95 percent of the CFS patients.
When you think about this new XMVR study, also remember the Epstein Barr situation back in the '80's. At first, discovering that many CFS patients had titers in their blood was very exciting news, too. But as more folks were tested, it became clear that about 90% of the general population has been exposed and also had the titers (tho most didn't know it and never became ill, etc.) So ultimately, the only ones the discovery had much meaning for were the approx 10% who went on to develop chronic mono. And even those patients, with time and care, mostly managed to eventually recover.... LV