What exactly is chronic fatigue syndrome? Anywhere from 1 million to 4 million Americans suffer from the disease, which announces itself in the form of chronic pains and, well, fatigue. Its origins have been difficult to trace, but it looks as if that’s about to change, thanks to the discovery of a possible link between a retrovirus called XMRV and the syndrome. —KA
The Wall Street Journal:
But the significance of the finding, published Thursday in Science, extends far beyond the community of people living with CFS. Researchers are just as concerned about the finding that nearly 4% of healthy people used as controls in the study were also infected with the virus, called XMRV. If larger studies confirm these numbers, it could mean that as many as 10 million people in the U.S. and hundreds of millions of people around the world are infected with a virus that is already strongly associated with at least two diseases.
The study was done by researchers at the Whittemore Peterson Institute for Neuro-Immune Disease in Reno, Nev., the National Cancer Institute and the Cleveland Clinic.
In September, researchers at the University of Utah and Columbia University Medical Center found XMRV in 27% of the prostate-cancer samples they examined. That study also showed that 6% of the benign prostate samples had XMRV. The chronic-fatigue study is the first to find live XMRV virus in humans.