Xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV) is a gamma retro virus first discovered in 2006. It’s discovery has caused a massive ripple throughout the world of CFS/ME with some researchers suggesting it may even be the cause of condition. Exciting times.
Due to the viruses very similar composition (95%) to those found in Mice one theory goes that perhaps this is the source of the virus in humans.
The Research – There are still big question marks over the link between XMRV and CFS/ME. Though hopefully this will be cleared up in the months to come.
The original study from the Whitmore Pearson institute (WPI) in the US found a prevalence of 67% in the blood of CFS/ME patients. Further studies increased this figure to 95%.
However recent studies including three from the UK and the Netherlands found no connection. There is ongoing controversy and debate around the types of people used in the research as well as the methods for testing the blood.
If in the future XMRV was definitely found to be linked to CFS/ME then the next question to consider is whether it is the central cause or simply another contributing factor to the condition.
In other words we still don’t know. So like any other suspect, it best be considered innocent until proven guilty.
Understandably some people have jumped at the initial findings and are keen to get tested for XMRV right away. It is possible do this through selected labs in the US and UK. However until more is known and the testing is at least proved to be reliable, I personally prefer to spend the time, money and energy elsewhere. But hey, I’ve never been an early adopter of technologies.
Treatment– Researchers have already identified and certain Doctors have already begun trialling existing Anti-retro viral drugs Raltegavir and AZT in treating XMRV. Similar to the treatment of HIV/AIDS these medications are designed to halt the progress of the virus and do not eradicate it from the body. Due to the success in negating many of the symptoms of HIV/AIDS certain doctors are optimistic should XMRV prove to be the central cause in CFS/ME it could successfully be controlled with existing medications. Is this good news or bad news for me? Well it all depends how you look at it. Personally I think its a good thing and choose to see it as a win-win. Either;
1. The researchers are on to something huge and can potentially halt the negative effects of CFS/ME in their tracks.
2. They find that it’s not the central cause of CFS/ME, but have discovered it’s another important piece of the puzzle.
3. They find no connection, scratch another potential cause of the list and move on to the next contender having raised millions of dollars for research and brought much needed government and media attention to the condition.
What should you do about it now?
- First off, don’t stress.
- Secondly, get educated and find out as much as you feel you need to be at ease.
- Thirdly have a chat with your doctor and make sure it is at least on their radar.
- Fourthly, make sure you are in touch with your closest CFS/ME association so if the time comes when XMRV or any other theory is proven to be critically important you will find out about it.
- Finally, sit back, relax and marvel as the modern medical system searches for an answer.
Whittemore Pearson Institute – The website of the leading XRMV research institute.
Phoenix Rising – A high quality blog bringing you the latest in XRMV news.