What causes Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? Many patients tuned in to the National Institute of Health State of the Knowledge Conference on April 7-8, 2011. What did we learn?
John Coffin, Ph.D., has all but concluded that the retrovirus XMRV is not the cause of CFS. He believes he knows exactly where XMRV came from, a recombinant of two mouse retroviruses. Both of these retroviruses contaminated the Cleveland Clinic lab where they found XMRV in prostate cancer tissue. Then this retrovirus combo contaminated the Whittemore Peterson Lab were Dr. Judy Mikovits found XMRV in 95% of CFS patients and 3-4% of seemingly healthy people tested. A similar retrovirus contaminated the NIH lab used by Drs. Alter and Lo. How did these labs get so dirty? They used contaminated products or they had mice running around at night while humans were sleeping. Dr. Coffin even shared a picture of a mouse sitting on a block of cheese.
Coffin’s conclusion? XMRV is an endogenous retrovirus, a retrovirus that has integrated into human cells. XMRV has been around a long time and is found in lots of humans with no effect on their health. Strangely, Dr. Coffin didn’t find it in any of the samples he studied.
All of this makes perfect sense, right? WRONG. It makes no sense at all. Dr. Coffin is speculating to rationalize why he didn’t find XMRV, while others did. Either the labs finding XMRV are contaminated or the retrovirus other labs found in human cells is harmless. Neither theory fits reality.
There is no evidence that either Mikovits’ or Lo’s labs were contaminated. In fact they both stated they tested repeatedly to be sure there was no contamination. There is, in fact, a total negation of that theory since patients have produced antibodies in their blood to XMRV. This cannot possibly be explained by lab contamination of a blood sample. It also cannot be explained by assuming that XMRV is endogenous – a harmless retrovirus hanging out in human blood and tissues. We don’t produce antibodies against something harmless.
Furthermore, it cannot explain the extreme difference in the numbers of CFS patients versus the healthy people also carrying XMRV – a difference ranging from 97% to 4%. This extreme difference strongly supports the notion that XMRV makes you sick. Coffin’s second theory, that XMRV is a harmless endogenous retrovirus, does not explain why Coffin’s lab found none.
Why can’t Coffin find XMRV? Cort Johnson interviewed Dr. Brent Satterfield who owns Cooperative Diagnostics where they are developing rapid testing for various infections. Satterfield charged patients a lot of money to detect XMRV. Turns out Satterfield didn’t find one patient infected with XMRV. Not one. He, in fact, charged patients to allow him to look for XMRV when he had NEVER FOUND XMRV IN ANYONE. He made fun of Mikovits for needing a post doc working for her to look up how to run PCRs in some lab books, like she wasn’t smart enough to know how. Mikowits stated, Nested PCR of cultured samples provided the best results for XMRV detection, it amplifies single molecules within a large sample… You really have to optimize the magnesium and base everything on the annealing temperatures.
- Here is a link to Cort’s interview with Satterfield. http://phoenixrising.me/?p=5132
- Here is a link to Dr. Mikowits’ comments on PCR testing. http://www.cfidsresearch.com/xmrv
I have to wonder, if you increased magnesium and heated things up a bit would you miraculously produce a new retrovirus? The fellow running the lab in South Carolina invoked God and compassion. Can someone please invoke the use of the human brain to see the obvious? XMRV is real but quite a few labs have no idea how to find it.
I was going to write a detailed overview of the science discussed at the state of the knowledge conference, but I decided, since this is my writing blog, that a better use of my time would be to work on getting my new novel published. My novel is more true to life than some of the science presented at the NIH State of the Knowledge Conference.
Dr. John Coffin said, “…leave XMRV behind.” Dr. John Chia wants us to consider enterovirus in the gut as causal, because he found 85% of CFS patients have enterovirus in the gut. Some are still knocking on the door of Epstein Barr virus or chronic mono, yet Erik Johnson will tell you plainly he was in the original cohort of CFS patients at Lake Tahoe and has never had mono, ever. My personal pet infection used to be mycoplasmas. Other researchers suggest patients have various infections. A lot seem to have Lyme disease. So why not leave XMRV behind? Never mind that Mikovits has found 97% of patients testing positive. If those other 3% are negative XMRV must not cause CFS, right?
But here’s the problem: we don’t have a good test yet, and there are other strains – PMRV anyone? That’s P for polytropic, probably what Alter and Lo found. This is getting complicated. Let’s leave XMRV behind, PMRV too. My head hurts.
Katie, bar the door! Do not let XMRV escape. You researchers don’t get off so easy. Think about the theory – XMRV suppresses the immune system and feeds off of stress steroids such as cortisol. You get mono, or you get an enterovirus or Lyme. You miss some sleep. You are stressed. What you don’t realize is that there is a monster in the closet, in your immune cells, and it ain’t mono or an enterovirus in your gut. It’s a retrovirus that won’t let your immune system control these common infections. You can treat the secondary infections and maybe, just maybe, recover for a few years. But the next stressor or infection is bound to happen. It’s just a matter of time and stress before you relapse.
We have to spend the money, do the research on XMRV. Now is not the time to simply move on and let XMRV walk out the research door.