The theory that chronic fatigue syndrome is caused by a virus has been killed off. It is just two years since researchers gave hope to sufferers that a cure may be on the horizon. In late December 2011 two of the global giants of science publishing from the United States, Science and Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, withdrew published papers which claimed sufferers carried a virus. Over the past three decades chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), or myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), has lost the dismissive tag of “yuppie disease” and is no longer thought to be only a psychiatric condition. It may affect 17 million people around the world, but there is no agreed cause or cure. Yet the studies caused blood banks, including the Red Cross, to ban blood donations from people who had suffered CFS. A medical science professor at the University of New South Wales, Andrew Lloyd, says fundamental steps to good science and clinical care were by-passed. He says it is understandable that CFS sufferers jump on any new discovery.
The prominent journal Science has retracted a 2009 report linking a mouse retrovirus to chronic fatigue syndrome after it was disproved by researchers earlier this year. The 2009 study led by Dr Judy Mikovits, the director of the Whittemore Peterson Institute, found that the retrovirus XMRV was frequently present in the blood of chronic fatigue sufferers, without establishing a causal link. The Journal Science said it had “lost confidence in the report and the validity of its conclusions” after multiple laboratories, including those of the original authors, failed to detect the virus in chronic fatigue patients. Read the full article »»»»