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Thursday 27th October 2016

Chronic fatigue linked to virus

24th August 2010

Researchers in the United States have found that a virus called XMRV is present in people who suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).


Xenotropic murine leukaemia virus-related virus belongs to a family of viruses known as murine leukaemia viruses (MLV).

It is a retrovirus, which causes cancer in mice.

Recent reports have yielded no evidence of the presence of XMRV, in conflict with the recent report, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers in this latest study found that out of 37 people with CFS, 87% had evidence of XMRV in their blood, compared with just 6.8% of healthy blood donors.

Similar results were obtained in a study carried out by researchers at the Whitemore Peterson Institute in Nevada.

Harvey Alter, chief of clinical studies and associate director for research in the department of transfusion medicine at the National Institutes of Health clinical centre in Bethesda, said the link between CFS and XMRV was "dramatic".

However, no causality for the link had been found, and the results did not accord with other research in the field, he said.

Scientists had yet to completely rule out the possibility of false positives caused by contamination of laboratory tests.

Experts said the new study provided as many questions as answers.

Andrew Mason, associate professor of medicine at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, called for a thorough investigation of the presence of the virus in CFS sufferers.

He said the only way to prove or disprove XMRV's role in CFS was to do a study involving anti-viral drugs, to see if attacking the virus in CFS patients led to an improvement or cure.

He said antiretovirals similar to those used to treat patients with HIV were known to be well-tolerated, although there were some side-effects.

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