News & AnalysisRetrovirology

More Negative Data for Link Between Mouse Virus and Human Disease

Science  11 Mar 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6022, pp. 1253-1254
DOI: 10.1126/science.331.6022.1253

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A new finding presented at a conference last week throws cold water on the impassioned debate about the link between a novel mouse retrovirus and prostate cancer and chronic fatigue syndrome in humans. Yet few believe it will end the controversy, which began in 2006. In an extensive sleuthing expedition that looked back nearly 20 years, two collaborating research teams contend that they have evidence that xenotropic murine leukemia virus–related virus (XMRV) resulted from the chance recombination of pieces of two mouse viruses in lab experiments and that the connections to human disease are spurious. But even if XMRV is not a threat to human health, the fact that a retrovirus that can readily infect human cells was apparently generated by chance in the lab raises some interesting and potentially troubling issues.

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