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Retrovirus XMRV and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

By HERWriter
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Xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus. Doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. But for sufferers from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromylagia, and Atypical MS it may become a household word. Many will probably use its acronym, XMRV. Still others will take the easy way out and call it simply The Retrovirus.

There is more than one known retrovirus however. XMRV joins ranks with HIV and the HTLV-1 and HTLV-2 retroviruses. HIV causes AIDS and HTLV-1 and HTLV-2 cause T-cell leukemia and T-cell lymphoma.

Some of us are looking around nervously wondering if there are more. The world of bacteria and viruses has always been a bit creepy, a bit fantastic, to those of us without microscopes and scientific bents. This week, things just got a bit creepier.

Information on XMRV came to light due to recent research by the Whittemore Peterson Institute for Neuro-Immune Disease, with the National Cancer Institute and the Cleveland Clinic. These scientists found XMRV in the blood of people with CFS. A study involving 330 CFS patients demonstrated XMRV antibodies in more than 95% of this study group's blood samples. Only about 4% of healthy controls had these antibodies.

XMRV was first discovered in prostate cancer tumors three years ago by Dr. Robert Silverman, Ph.D. Silverman is a professor in the Department of Cancer Biology at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute.

Dr. Silverman was asked by Dr. Judy Mikovits, Director of Research for the Whittemore Peterson Institute, to analyze blood samples for 101 CFS patients and 218 healthy control subjects. XMRV DNA was found in immune cells of 67% of the CFS patients but in only 3.7% of the healthy controls.

A retrovirus can merge its DNA with our genetic makeup, becoming a permanent fixture in our cells. We can become chronically ill with inflammatory diseases, neurological disease immune deficiency, or cancer. XMRV shows up in relation with CFS, Fibromylagia, Atypical MS (all of which these researchers call neuro-immune diseases) and prostate cancer.

There have long been theories involving retrovirus involvement in CFS. Nothing solid has emerged until now. Currently the hypothesis at the Whittemore Peterson Institute is that XMRV infection of B cells, T cells, Natural Killer cells, and others of the innate immune response, causes chronic inflammation and immune deficiency. Immune response to infection is completely overwhelmed.

The hope is that this discovery will aid in treating and preventing a number of cancers, and neuro-immune diseases like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.


Bringing the Heat: An ME/CFS Blog

Emerging Health Threats: Emerging retrovirus turns up in new patients

Science News: Retrovirus might be culprit in chronic fatigue syndrome

Study isolates virus in chronic fatigue sufferers

Whittemore Peterson Institute for Neuro-Immune Disease: XMRV Q & A

Whittemore Peterson Institute for Neuro-Immune Disease: Retrovirus Overview

Retrovirus Linked to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Could Aid in Diagnosis

Visit Jody's website and blog at http://www.ncubator.ca and http://ncubator.ca/blogger

Add a Comment5 Comments

I am curious to know if this virus has any relationship to RSD.

October 18, 2009 - 11:35pm

Thank you anonymous for the three monkies post. That did help clarify the terms about what's a
retrovirus or just a regular every day 'virus'. And the post about the links with polio are very
'interesting'..I too am happy that some connections have been made and that this is not all
'in our heads' or some kind of psychological problem. That indeed is good news.
Getting back to the science part. Are not viruses very hard to treat? I don't want to get my
hopes up like everyone else but I do feel I lack understanding about what now goes on. In the
case of HIV they are able to improve the quality of life but a cure as such has not been found..if
I have that right. The same with cancer. Some surgery solves it...but some doesn't. The
same with other treatments. So, would it not be the same with CFS? That there may be some
improvements but not actually an end to it? Any input appreciated...

October 17, 2009 - 8:02pm

I know what you mean.

It makes the whole psycho/emotional stuff stand out more starkly now that we are finding some physiological evidence.

We need to wait and see where it all leads though. There have been other viruses that seemed like the answer for awhile, and later proved to be results of some yet unknown cause. That could still be the case with this one.

But even if this is not the total answer, even if it ends up raising more questions, we must keep our hope up because the research is being done and there will be answers whether it is right now or later. We are further ahead than we were before this research.

We will find out what has happened to us and we will find out what we can do to overcome it.

Have hope. :-)

October 15, 2009 - 2:38pm
EmpowHER Guest

It is wonderful news. I am a realist, not an optimist or a pessimist, but this really feels as though they have got it. I'm a kind of happy person, but I am starting to get some negative feelings to those who created mysterious expensive psychotherapy "therapy" courses which may now be viewed as exploiting desperate people. The "lightning" course for CFS sufferers, what was that? Expensive false secretive psychotherapy? The sufferers had a retrovirus. Imagine someone exploiting someone with another famous retrovirus, HIV. Grrrhh. Nevermind. This is wonderful news this week.

October 15, 2009 - 2:15pm
EmpowHER Guest

For those readers without a scientific background, we recommend taking a look at the article we published about this research a few days ago because we explain the difference between a regular virus and a retrovirus in plain English. Distinguishing between the two makes the research easier to understand.


October 13, 2009 - 3:32pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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