ESME, Mar 11: In October the Whittemore Peterson Institute in Nevada published a report on the presence of XMRV virus in ME/CFS patients. This report, published in Science, created much excitement in the medical world and in the media.
The report suggested the etiology of ME/CFS was indeed a physical disease, tending to change public opinion.
However, we must temper this excitement with careful research that replicates or denies the thesis. This new research must be careful to replicate or deny the original research with a large cohort of patients and controls.
There are numerous groups with their own agenda who wish to confirm or deny the original research. Large government grants and insurance disability interests are at stake. These groups have rushed to publish unsatisfactory comparative research with anecdotal results, based on a small number of ill-defined patients, stale specimens and differing research methods.
It would be helpful if there was a collaborative effort to test a significant number of the same specimens in different research centers. Perhaps 200 Fukuda criteria and Canadian criteria patients and controls could be divided and tested in multiple centers in a double-blind trial to replicate or deny the original research.
It is time for the psychological and physical researchers to collaborate rather than cast aspersions on each other’s work. ESME would support such collaboration.
* ME/CFS/FM specialist Dr. Derek Enlander, MD, is an attending physician at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York who also sees patients in the UK.
Dr. Enlander is a Scientific Panel member of the European Society for ME (ESME) – a non-profit Think Tank operated entirely by volunteers and dedicated to discussing the most crucial research and incorporating the best cutting edge information into the education of medical professionals.