Seven percent is approximately 20 million people, a robust signal that these retroviruses have entered the blood supply. What makes this most likely a fait accompli is that the healthy controls in this study were all blood donors. Before the discovery of XMRV, there were only two known human retroviruses: HTLV and HIV.
The NIH’s principal investigator on the study, Dr. Harvey Alter, believes his group and the earlier Science group are looking at the same retrovirus. “Viruses tend not to be homogeneous,” Alter explained to CFS Central in a telephone interview. “The fact that we didn’t find XMRV doesn’t bother me because we already knew that retroviruses tend to be variable. They mutate a lot, basically. This is true of HIV and HCV [hepatitis C virus]. It’s not one virus. It’s a family of viruses.”
The Murine Leukemia Viruses detected in the Alter paper have been studied for more than 40 years and are known to cause leukemias and neurological disease. As documented in more than 2,500 studies, patients with CFS suffer from neurological symptoms, including seizures, short-term memory problems and abnormal brain scans, as well as cancers, particularly lymphomas. The "Murine" in Murine Leukemia Virus is another word for mouse. The last known retrovirus to jump species was HIV—from monkeys to humans.
Important to note is the retroviruses detected in those seven patients in 2010 had mutated in the 15-year interim. “That’s just what you’d expect from a retrovirus,” said Alter. “That’s more evidence that this is a real agent, not a sequence floating around in the lab.”
Alter said he’ll look at other cohorts of CFS patients as well as patients with other diseases, including hepatitis C, HIV, fibromyalgia and autoimmune diseases to see if they harbor these MLVs. He’ll also be examining larger populations of blood donors to determine if the MLVs are transmitted by blood.
Tangling with the U.S. government proved costly to the researcher, which scared off likeminded scientists for nearly 20 years, silenced patients and split the research community into two nonintersecting camps: Those who championed a viral cause, and those—including the CDC, several British psychiatrists and Emory University psychologists—who championed a psychogenic cause.
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For more information on the retroviral link to CFS, see "Blood Feud: Part 1" and "Blood Feud: Part 2" or contact CFS Central at email@example.com