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What is XMRV?

Researchers at the Whittemore Peterson Institute in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute and the Cleveland Clinic, have recently discovered the presence of a retrovirus in blood samples from patients diagnosed with chronic ME/ CFS. The human retrovirus, identified as XMRV, has now been found to be in over 95 percent of the patients’ blood samples in this study group.

XMRV is a human retrovirus and is similar to HIV and HTLV-1. It was first identified by Dr. Robert Silverman, in prostate cancer tissue of men with a specific genetic defect in their antiviral defense pathway. Prior to the Whittemore Peterson Institute study, XMRV had not been isolated from a human diseased population or been shown to be infectious and transmissible.

What is the link between XMRV and ME/CFS, fibromyalgia and other neuro-immune diseases?

Our initial Research showed that 67% of the ME/CFS patient samples tested positive for XMRV. Further work has found that 95% tested positive. Work continues to understand how this virus works within neuro-immune diseases, but this discovery proves a significant correlation between this serious retrovirus and these diseases. Our work suggests, but does not prove, that XMRV may be the underlying cause of ME/CFS. Much additional work needs to be done to understand how XMRV causes disease and what types of diseases it is linked to it.

A few fibromyalgia samples were tested and yes, they were positive. However the sampling was very small, and testing will have to continue on a much larger scale to begin to draw significant conclusions. In addition, many patients with ME/CFS have been given the diagnosis of fibromyalgia when in fact they have ME/CFS and fibromyalgia.

Why was XMRV looked for in neuro-immune diseases?

Patients who have been diagnosed with ME/CFS have been shown to have a unique immune deficiency in a part of their antiviral system called the RNase L pathway. This pathway was also deficient in men whose cancer samples were first used in the discovery of XMRV. In this study, however, Whittemore Peterson Institute Researchers have found XMRV in patients without an RNase L pathway deficiency. It is not known if XMRV causes this deficiency or if patients with this deficiency are more susceptible to the virus’ effects or both.

Does this latest information prove once and for all that ME/CFS is not a psychological or psychosomatic illness as described by those who don’t understand the disease?

Absolutely! Actually, there are thousands of Research articles showing the very real biological problems that ME/CFS patient’s experience such as low NK cell count and function, MRI and SPEC scan changes, and repeated chronic infections, to mention just a few. Only the most stubborn and misinformed individuals refuse to believe that this disease is real and serious. The process of placing poorly understood illnesses into a psychological category is very similar to what happened in the early days of MS and epilepsy before the advent of technologies which proved the illnesses were “real.” Unfortunately, many in the scientific and medical fields have not learned from their past mistakes.

Information supplied by : The Whittemore Peterson Institute for Neuro Immune Disease Administrative Offices: 6600 N Wingfield Pkwy, Sparks, NV 89436 (775) 348-2335


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