24 August 2010
Action for M.E., the UK’s leading charity for people with M.E., is calling on the Medical Research Council to prioritise research into the link between viral infections and M.E., following the latest findings from the United States.
Scientists at the American Food and Drug Administration, National Institutes of Health and Harvard Medical School have found murine leukemia virus-related viruses (MLVs) in 32 out of a sample of 37 (86.5%) people with chronic fatigue syndrome, compared to 3 out of 44 (6.8%) healthy blood donors.
Chronic fatigue syndrome is also known as M.E. or M.E./CFS.
The findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) support research from the Whittemore Peterson Institute in Reno, last October, which identified genetic material (DNA) from a mouse virus - murine leukaemia virus-related virus (XMRV) - in 68 out of 101 CFS patients (67%) compared to 8 out of 218 (3.7%) of healthy people.
Action for M.E.’s Chief Executive, Sir Peter Spencer, welcomed the latest news saying, “It is extremely encouraging to see positive results linking different strains of viruses and CFS, after disappointing results from other studies earlier this year.
“However, we cannot afford to leave this to the Americans. M.E. affects 250,000 men women and children in the UK, from toddlers aged two to people in their eighties. Many become so severely affected that they are bedbound or housebound.
“In June, the MRC’s expert group on M.E./CFS identified viral infection as a priority. We now call on the MRC to take this forward in real terms, as a matter of urgency, by allocating a significant level of funding to research in this area.
“There are still many questions to be answered, not least the variations in findings. Large-scale studies involving many more patients are also required.”
Notes to editor
1. The findings published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) can be found at http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/08/16/1006901107.full.pdf+html)
2. PR Newswire press release at: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/study-presence-of-murine-leukemia-virus-related-gene-sequences-found-in-cfs-patients-101316939.html
3. October 2009 research from the Whittemore Peterson Institute can be found at: http://www.cfids-cab.org/rc/Lombardi.pdf
4. The June 2010 MRC CFS/ME Research Prioritisation Meeting details may be found at: http://www.mrc.ac.uk/Utilities/Documentrecord/index.htm?d=MRC007174