Date: 12 jaqnuari 2010
Author: Lenita Powers
Reno researchers dispute British challenge to virus discovery
Reno scientists who found a link between a retrovirus and people
with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are scoffing at a challenge from
British researchers who claim the discovery was false.
Researchers at the nonprofit Whittemore-Peterson Institute for
Neuro-Immune Disease at the University of Nevada, Reno made
headlines worldwide last October when they reported discovering
a new infectious human retrovirus, XMRV, in the blood of 68 of
101 people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
In a story scheduled to appear Friday in the print edition of
Science magazine, Myra McClure, a professor of retrovirology at
Imperial College London, said her team of researchers examined
DNA from the blood of 186 people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
for XMRV and a closely related virus, but found neither.
"If there was one copy of the virus in those samples, we would
have detected it," McClure said.
But McClure and her team did not duplicate the scientific techniques
used by the Whittemore-Peterson Institute in collaboration with
the National Cancer Institute and the Cleveland Clinic, Judy
Mikovits, a lead researcher at the institute, said Tuesday.
"You can't claim to replicate a study if you don't do a single
thing that we did in our study," she said. "They skewed their
experimental design in order to not find XMRV in the blood."
The Whittemore-Peterson Institute issued a statement saying the
British study was published after only three days of review as
opposed to the institute study that underwent six months of
vigorous peer review plus confirmation by three independent
laboratories before it was published in Science magazine.
The statement also cited different techniques used in the British
study that make its conclusions meaningless, including the use of
a molecular plasmid control in water instead of a positive blood
sample. "They paid to have their study published in the Public
Library of Science, and it was then picked up by Science (magazine),"
said Mikovits said, who suspects insurance companies in the United
Kingdom are behind attempts to sully the findings of the Reno study.
She said the Whittemore-Peterson Institute has been flooded with
calls from patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome discouraged by the
conclusions made by McClure and her team. "They want to know if we
are going to give up because a few people are attacking us, but no,
we are not going to give up," Mikovits said. "We are still trying
to develop drugs to treat Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. That was our
goal, and nothing has changed."
The Whittemore-Peterson Institute continues to form new collaborations
with researchers who are trying to replicate its study, said Annette
Whittemore, president and founder of the institute. "Our goal has
always been to translate our research into diagnostics and therapeutics
for patients," she said. "We think XMRV is, at the very least, a
biomarker for a subset of patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome."
(c) 2010 Reno Gazette Journal