Complementary Medicine

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XMRV Controversy Heats Up — Two Important New Studies

My thoughts on two new XMRV studies

ResearchersAs expected, the XMRV virus research has stimulated interest in a host of studies to see if the initial study results can be replicated and to discover treatments for XMRV. Since my last website newsletter on XMRV testing and research, two interesting new studies have been reported.

The first study suggests that of the 10 most common antivirals used against retroviruses, the only one that showed any effectiveness against XMRV (in test tubes) was AZT. This will give researchers an important starting point in exploring treatment for XMRV. I would NOT recommend this treatment yet for CFS though, as it can be fairly toxic and we don’t know if it will have any benefit.

The second study was done in the UK, and screened 186 CFS patients for XMRV using PCR testing (looking for genetic material). None of these patients tested positive for XMRV. This finding should be tempered by the same issue being found for prostate cancer and XMRV. Where the American studies found XMRV to be more common in prostate cancer, this association was not found in other European studies. This suggests that either XMRV infection is more of an issue in the US or that the testing methodology used in the European study was inadequate (which is what the WPI is claiming).

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As a medical reporter who has been closely involved in the CFS & fibromyalgia field as a patient, physician and researcher for over 30 years, I find both the science and politics to be fascinating. You will hear some hard hitting attacks (sometimes done subtly, sometimes not so subtly) coming from both sides. And I suspect the melee has just begun.

I have looked at both of the two above studies in depth, along with the initial reader comments on treatment from my website community bulletin board. I’ve also looked at the rebuttal of the UK findings by the WPI (which did the initial study) and some background on a few of the new study authors — significant, as one of them seems determined to have CFS be treated as a psychological problem!

My net assessment of the two studies? As to the first, although it was an important research study on the issue, the medication used in the recommended treatment can be quite toxic and I wouldn’t advise CFS patients to try it until other CFS users confirm its benefit. As to the second, ambiguities in the testing make me skeptical of its conclusions.

Read my detailed assessment of the two studies.

Love and Blessings,

Dr. T

Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., internist and author of From Fatigued to Fantastic!, researches treatments for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and fibromyalgia.

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