Xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV) is a gamma retrovirus that has been associated with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and prostate cancer.
The search for viral causes of these syndromes was reignited by the finding that RNase L activity was low in hereditary prostate cancer and some CFS patients.
The six strains of XMRV that have been sequenced have greater than 99% identity, indicating a new human infection rather than laboratory contamination.
DNA, RNA, and proteins from XMRV have been detected in 50% to 67% of CFS patients and in about 3.7% of healthy controls.
XMRV infections could be transmitted to permissive cell lines from CFS plasma, suggesting the potential for communicable and blood-borne spread of the virus and potentially CFS.
This troubling concept is currently under intense evaluation. The most important steps now are to independently confirm the initial findings; develop reliable assays of biomarkers; and to move on to investigations of XMRV pathophysiology and treatment in CFS, prostate cancer, and potentially other virus-related syndromes, if they exist.
Source: Current Allergy and Asthma Reports, Apr 7, 2010. PMID: 20425007, by Baraniuk JN. Georgetown University, Washington, DC, USA. [Email: email@example.com]