News of the WeekVirology

An Indefatigable Debate Over Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

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Science  15 Jan 2010:
Vol. 327, Issue 5963, pp. 254-255
DOI: 10.1126/science.327.5963.254

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The search for the cause of chronic fatigue syndrome, which just months ago seemed to be gaining traction, now seems likely to descend into the same confusion and acrimony that characterized it for years, as a supposed viral link to CFS published just last autumn might be unraveling. A U.S. team caused a stir when they reported online in Science finding DNA traces of a virus, XMRV, in the blood cells of two-thirds of 101 patients with CFS, compared with 4% of 218 healthy controls. Other scientists thought the link dubious, criticizing the team for not explaining enough about the demographics of their patients or the procedures to prevent contamination. Now a U.K. team has published a paper in PLoS ONE challenging the claim. Their null result prompts the question of what—if anything—was wrong with the original paper.