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'No connection' between ME and two specific viruses
Wednesday 19 September 2012
Two particular viruses have nothing to do with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), despite earlier evidence of a link, a study has shown.
The new findings deepen the mystery surrounding the cause of debilitating condition, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME).
"These results refute any correlation between these agents and disease."
CFS can strike out of the blue - causing severe tiredness as well as muscle weakness, aches and pains, memory loss, and poor sleep.
Once dismissed as a purely psychological problem, experts now agree that it is a serious physical illness.
In 2009 and 2010, separate studies found the two viruses in the blood of CFS patients, raising hopes of identifying an easily treatable cause of the condition.
But since then, other investigators have been unable to confirm the results.
"We went ahead and set up a study to test this thing once and for all and determine whether we could find footprints of these viruses in people with chronic fatigue syndrome or in healthy controls," said Dr Lipkin.
[The mBio study can be found here.]
Blood samples were tested for genes specific to XMRV and pMLV, as had been done before. But great care was taken to ensure no contamination of the testing chemicals which may have led to false results in the earlier studies.
XMRV and pMLV are viruses commonly found in mice, but there has never been a definite case of them infecting humans.
The tests found no evidence of the two viruses in the blood of either CFS patients or healthy participants.
Dr Lipkin said: "We've tested the XMRV/pMLV hypothesis and found it wanting. We are not abandoning the science. The controversy brought a new focus that will drive efforts to understand CFS/ME and lead to improvements in diagnosis, prevention and treatment of this syndrome."
Patients with CFS have benefited from cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), which teaches people to change the way they think, and structured exercise programmes.
Often patients spontaneously recover after years with the condition, or learn to live with their symptoms.
The above originally appeared here.
From Columbia University's The Center for Infection and Immunity:
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