Dr. Alter’s ‘Comments on the Agent Du Jour – XMRV’ at Zagreb Blood Conference

Pdfs of presentation slides from the IPFA/PEI Workshop on “Surveillance and Screening of Blood Borne Pathogens’ (Zagreb, Croatia, May 26-27, 2010) are posted at the Workshop site.
As famously noted June 22 by reporters for the Dutch publication ORTHO,  the following is found on page 10 of NIH virologist Dr. Harvy Alter’s slide pack (Presentation 1, Session 4,  Day 1):

“Comments on the Agent Du Jour – XMRV

• The data in the Lombardi, et al. Science manuscript are extremely strong and likely true, despite the controversy.

• Not only have they detected gag and envelope XMRV sequences, but they have infected prostate cell lines and recovered gamma retrovirus particles and have transmitted XMRV to rhesus macaques by the IV route and demonstrated infectivity.

• Although blood transmission to humans has not been proved, it is probable.

• The association with CFS [Chronic Fatigue Syndrome] is very strong, but causality not proved.

• XMRV and related MLVs are in the donor supply with an early prevalence estimate of 3% – 7%.

• We (FDA & NIH) have independently confirmed the Lombardi group findings.”

Importantly, Dr. Alter is about as illustrious and respected as they come. Like most of the ‘invisible illness’ world, we Googled him & found a Wikipedia page (http://wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvey_J._Alter) noting he is best known for his work leading to discovery of the hepatitis C virus.

See also a presentation on XMRV & blood safety by Roger Y Dodd, PhD, director of the American Red Cross’s Holland Lab in Rockville, Maryland. Dr. Dodd’s contribution – titled “Xenotropic Murine Leukemia virus (XMLV) – Related virus and retrovirus diversity: Implications for blood safety” – is listed as Presentation 1, Session 3, Day 1. :He summarizes XMRV knowledge so far as follows:


• ERVs represent a complex and confusing field with many controversial observations (“Human rumor viruses”)

• XMRV is a recently identified gamma retrovirus infecting humans but apparently of mouse origin

• Associated with some, but not all cases of prostate cancer and CFS

• Variable expression (up to several percent) in normal controls

• Theoretically transmissible by transfusion

• Significance unclear, but obvious regulatory and public concerns”

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