News FocusVirology

False Positive

Science  23 Sep 2011:
Vol. 333, Issue 6050, pp. 1694-1701
DOI: 10.1126/science.333.6050.1694

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Summary

For the past 2 years, a controversy has roiled around the purported link between a mouse retrovirus, XMRV, and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), a baffling, debilitating disease with no known origin. An October 2009 paper in Science found XMRV in the blood of two-thirds of the CFS patients examined, but more than a dozen labs have failed to replicate it to date. Millions of dollars have gone into clarifying the question, which has had far-reaching consequences for people with CFS and, if the virus lurked in the blood supply, the public at large. A nine-lab study published online this week by Science found that none of the labs could reproducibly detect XMRV or relatives of the virus in blood samples distributed under a blinded code. Science is also running a partial retraction of the original paper, as a contributing lab found that it in fact had a contamination.