On Dec 20, the journal Retrovirology published a suite of 4 articles & a commentary(1) essentially giving the impression that studies reporting evidence of XMRV infection in ME/CFS and prostate cancer patient samples is owing to contamination by mouse DNA or RNA, and suggesting “XMRV might not be a genuine human pathogen.” The articles put some reporters into an ‘XMRV is Dead’ mode.
But not so FAST.
“What these 5 are doing to the patients is a crime against humanity,” fired back the internationally known Belgian clinician/researcher, Dr. Kenny DeMeirleir. Expect much more research to be published in the first half of 2011 that contradicts their inferences, he promised.
And as for the Whittemore Peterson Institute, which directed the first study finding evidence of XMRV infection in ME/CFS patients, "The coauthors stand by the conclusions of Lombardi et al. Nothing that has been published to date refutes our data," wrote WPI research director Dr. Judy Mikovits in a special statement (attached below).
Specifically, “You will not make an immune response to a lab contaminant,” Dr. Mikovits commented to Wall Street Journal reporter Amy Dockser-Marcus (“XMRV: Raising the Issue of Contamination”).
And as for the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) headline article - "Chronic fatigue [syndrome] study tainted: Scientist" - XMRV Global Action quickly responded, describing it as "a journalistic embarrassment", itself "tainted" by "slothful" failure to conduct any "interviews which capture a balance of credible opinion on the emerging XMRV science." To see XMRV Global Action's full response with expert quotes and an invitation to use the material in blogs and letters to the media, click HERE.
WPI STATEMENT REGARDING RETROVIROLOGY ARTICLE
Dec 20, 2010:
The Lombardi et al.(2) and Lo et al. (3) studies were done using four different methods of detection.
They were not simply PCR experiments, as were the studies by McClure et al. and others who have recently reported their difficulties with contamination.
Experienced researchers such as Mikovits, Lombardi, Lo and their collaborators understand the limitations of PCR technology, especially the possibility of sample contamination.
As a result, we and Lo et al. conducted rigorous studies to prevent and rule out any possibility that the results reported were from contamination.
In addition to the use of PCR methodology, the Lombardi team used two other scientific techniques to determine whether, in fact, we had found new retroviruses in human blood samples.
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 mouse cells, mouse DNA or XMRV-related virus-contaminated human tumor cells.
No mouse cell lines and none of the human cell lines reported today by Hue et al. to contain XMRV were ever cultured in the WPI lab where our PCR experiments were performed.
Humans cannot make antibodies to viruses related to murine leukemia viruses unless they have been exposed to virus proteins.
Therefore, recent publications regarding PCR contamination do not change the conclusions of the Lombardi et al. and Lo et al. studies that concluded that patients with ME/CFS are infected with human gammaretroviruses.
We have never claimed that CFS was caused by XMRV, only that CFS patients possess antibodies to XMRV related proteins and harbor infectious XMRV, which integrates into human chromosomes and thus is a human infection of as yet unknown pathogenic potential
"The coauthors stand by the conclusions of Lombardi et al. Nothing that has been published to date refutes our data."
Judy A. Mikovits