John Coffin’s XMRV conclusions “clearly wrong,” IMEA states

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A news release published August 3 by the International ME Association (IMEA) claims new research points to such great sequence diversity in XMRV variants that John Coffin’s paper suggesting XMRV resulted from lab contaminants is “clearly wrong.” And that the paper – “Recombinant Origin of the Retrovirus XMRV” (Paprotka et al., May 2011) – “needs investigating as glaring flaws in methodology have already been revealed.”

To read the announcement and associated information (“New Evidence: Human gamma retroviruses have too large a sequence diversity to be a lab contaminant”), click here.

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4 thoughts on “John Coffin’s XMRV conclusions “clearly wrong,” IMEA states”

  1. beanier says:

    The ‘IMEA’ is not a reliable source of information and therefore statements by the ‘IMEA’ should not be promoted by ProHealth if ProHealth wants to be seen as a legitimate source of information. It might sound like a cop-out, but basically there are just too many errors in statements produced by IMEA to even take the time to bother to sort them all out. In my opinion ProHealth should not play favors by promoting statements by the ‘IMEA’ if ProHealth wants to be seen as a legitimate source of information.

  2. cfs since 1998 says:

    (Ad hominem attacks like the one that appeared here recently add nothing to the discussion. You must criticize the information not its source.)

    The fact of the matter is that Grossberg began studying ME-CFS/CFIDS in 1989 and created a laboratory cell line called JHK-3 from the blood cells of a ME-CFS/CFIDS patient and a healthy donor. He discovered what he determined to be a new human retrovirus in that cell line no later than 1992, and filed patents in 1994 and 1996 (stating he also found the virus in other patients), then published a peer reviewed paper in 1997 in which he called this virus the JHK virus. (Interestingly, along the novel JHK retrovirus, the JHK-3 cell line also produces very high levels of Epstein-Barr Virus. One wonders why a cell line derived from a patient with a disease that used to be called Chronic Epstein-Barr Virus Syndrome would produce high amounts of EBV.)

    On August 1, 2011 a sequence of the JHK virus by Dr. Grossberg was published to GenBank with the title “Partial molecular cloning with novel consensus PCR primers of the murine JHK retrovirus of human origin, a variant of the Xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV)”. The fact that a variant of XMRV had been discovered in the early 1990s contradicts the Prapotka/Coffin 2011 hypothesis two ways: first, it predates the estimated recombination event which was speculated to be as late as 1996; second, this XMRV shows significant genetic diversity compared to the VP-62 isolate of XMRV, about 83% (whereas HIV-1 and HIV-2 have only 40% homology.) This information has profound replications.

  3. beanier says:

    The summary by the ‘IMEA’ linked to on this page is severely flawed and is not a legitimate scientific critique, and in my opinion ProHealth should not promote such inaccurate sources if ProHealth itself wishes to be seen as a legitimate source of information.

    1. No peer-reviewed scientific paper has reported a 90% gammaretroviral infection rate in ME/CFS patients, instead there have been various conflicting statements in newspapers and patient presentations.

    2. It is not a ‘small group of retrovirologists’ which believe that the reports of gammaretroviral infection in ME/CFS patients are the result of contamination, it is fast becoming consensus among the retroviral community at large that the XMRV and MLV findings of Lombardi and Lo are in fact the result of PCR contamination. Whether or not this consensus is correct is of course open to question, but the fact remains that it is not simply a ‘small group’ of retrovirologists which have asserted contamination as is claimed.

    3. XMRV has not been proven to produce an immune response in humans, instead there has been a grand total of one paper published which a reported association between XMRV infection and a proposed immune signature. However it has not been shown either that the signature in question is in fact the result of XMRV or whether this signature is specific to XMRV, as all of the patients in the paper in question were selected from one localized outbreak and were not a random selection of ‘XMRV+’ patients, therefore the proposed immune signature could be the result of any number of factors.

    4. It has not been shown that the virus referred to in the summary is even the same virus as XMRV, despite the authors naming it thusly. The virus in question could just as easily be a distinct virus from XMRV and would therefore not reflect ‘sequence variation’ in XMRV.

    5. John Coffin’s study, Recombinant origins of the retroviruls XMRV, deals specifically with the virus known as XMRV and not with the larger family of xeno-, eco- and polytropic retroviruses. Sequence diversity in a family of viruses does not represent sequence variation in an individual virus.

    In summary, this critique is severely flawed and reaches conclusions which are not supported by the evidence. If ProHealth wishes to be seen as a legitimate source of information then ProHealth should take care as to what information it publishes.

  4. myalgic says:

    This fairytale of how XMRV might have been formed, later referred to as an “event”, inferring it was more than speculation, was invented to support Coffin’s other fairytale: that the discovery of XMRV and other Human GammaRetroviruses in the MLV family in mecfs patients was nothing more than “lab contamination”.

    Those researchers of WPI, NIH, FDA and Harvard who found this family of retroviruses in mecfs patients have had decades of experience avoiding lab contamination and have convincingly refuted the contamination diversionary tale, yet a small but imbedded group in the government health beauracracy keeps banging the drum of “contamination”.

    Coffin and Paprotka should retract their papers.

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