One crucial next step in research to understand a possible link between the XMRV retrovirus and ME/CFS is to conduct independent studies that determine whether the Whittemore-Peterson findings published recently in Science can be replicated, as replication studies are “where the rubber meets the road in science.”
As part of this effort, ME Research UK and Irish ME Trust have announced that they are jointly funding a study to provide “Independent confirmation of the relationship between XMRV and ME/CFS in Sweden.” The goal is to make the findings available very soon - as early as spring 2010.
As they explain it, “Since the WPI researchers used samples selected from several regions in the US where ‘outbreaks of CFS’ had been documented (using patients diagnosed on CDC-1994 criteria [the 'Fukuda' criteria] and the Canadian Clinical Criteria 2003), blood samples from patients in other areas or countries might throw up very different results."
The question being, “Will ME/CFS samples from other regions of the US show similar high rates of positivity? And what about European samples?”
To Help Answer the Question with Regard to Swedish Patients...
ME Research UK and Irish ME Trust are funding the independent research of two leading Swedish researchers:
• Professor Jonas Blomberg, head of the Research Group of Clinical Virology at Sweden’s Uppsala University, and a specialist in retrovirus research.
• And Professor Carl-Gerhard Gottfries, Professor Emeritus at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, founder of the Gottfries Clinic for ME/CFS and fibromyalgia, and a specialist in immunomodulatory therapy.
The Major Fnding Described in the Science Article was That…
“DNA from the XMRV virus could be detected in the peripheral blood mononuclear cells of over two-thirds of ME/CFS patients’ samples from the blood bank in the Whittemore Peterson Institute tissue repository, but in less than 4% of healthy control samples.
“Also, the researchers reported that XMRV proteins were being expressed in blood cells from ME/CFS patients at very high levels compared with controls, and that patient-derived XMRV was infectious and transmissible.”
The Swedish Replication Study will…
Attempt to “establish whether XMRV nucleic acid can be found in peripheral blood mononuclear cells, plasma, and serum of Swedish patients and controls.”
The Researchers Will…
“Retrospectively test previously stored samples from 3 groups of patients -
• 20 Fukuda-defined ME/CFS,
• 20 fibromyalgia,
• 20 irritable bowel,
…and 20 controls.”
In addition, “they will prospectively test samples from 120 ME/CFS patients (defined on the Fukuda 1994 and the Canadian 2003 criteria, similar to patients in the original 2009 report in Science), who will also have functional assessments.”
Testing Will be Conducted At…
Section of Clinical Virology, Uppsala University Hospital, Uppsala, Sweden; Institution for Neuroscience and Physiology at the Sahlgrenska Academy, Gothenburg University, and Gottfries Clinic, Mölndal, Sweden.