A new study is out this week in the Journal of Virology, done by researchers I respect from the University of Utah, Fatigue Consultation Clinic, and ARUP Laboratories. The study was well done and did not find XMRV present in CFS patients. This important study looked at 100 CFS patients and 200 controls. In addition, 14 patients who had positive tests for XMRV at WPI, including two in the original WPI study, also tested negative for XMRV in this study.
So what does this all mean? On one level, likely one of two things:
- Either it takes the specialized testing done at the WPI to detect the virus, OR
- Positive findings in the Mikovits and Alter studies were the result of contamination.
What does it not mean that this study did not find XMRV?
It does not say anything about whether CFS & fibromyalgia are real. There are many studies showing numerous infections in CFS/FMS, as is expected in an immune disorder. Treating these infections and the immune dysfunction is an important part of treatment (remember, the "I" in SHINE stands for Infections in the "SHINE Treatment Protocol"). The study also does not change treatment at this time, as we do not recommend the AIDS antivirals that might work against XMRV.
Some Good News?
New research opens some exciting and very novel (and low cost) new possibilities for testing and treatment in CFS!
As the study authors note, there is "still a wealth of prior data to encourage further research into the involvement of other infectious agents in CFS, and these efforts must continue."
More studies are planned to explore the XMRV virus and CFS. At this point though, what is needed to resolve the debate is what we have been recommending for quite a while (see XMRV Controversy Heats Up — Two Important New Studies), and which would simply and clearly answer whether the XMRV found in the WPI testing is real or a contaminant. An independent group (and the ones who did this study would be an excellent choice) should select people to test. Half of the samples sent to the WPI should be from people with clearcut CFS and half from healthy patients, and the samples should be blinded (i.e., not labeled as to whether they are coming from CFS or healthy control patients). If the samples sent to the WPI clearly again come up positive for XMRV in CFS patients and negative for healthy patients, as in the earlier study, it would immediately answer the question of whether XMRV is more common in CFS or whether it was simply lab error. So in real life, there is really a very simple approach that could answer these questions.
A Possible New Treatment?
Another recent but largely unnoticed study offers:
- A powerful new piece to the puzzle of what is happening in CFS,
- The possibility that two simple tests from any lab could help tell which CFS patients have important viral infections, and
- A simple, very surprising, and low-cost treatment (the medication is 20 cents a day) that could help fight these infections
Though the role of XMRV is still a big question mark, this other possibility is very exciting stuff! I am researching the area further and in the process of writing the article, so I hope to have it an upcoming newsletter in the next few weeks. All I can say is it is very fascinating and promising ;-)
You can download a pdf of the XMRV study from Journal of Virology.
Love and Blessings
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