A doubt has been cast on the theory that chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), or myalgic encephalomyelitis(ME), may be linked to a recently discovered virus, by British scientists.
Last October, a team of US experts published research indicating that the debilitating condition, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), can be triggered by a virus, called XMRV.
AdvertisementThe study published in the journal Science linked cases of CFS with the recently discovered virus.
But now researchers from Imperial College London and King's College London have conducted a new study, which shows no evidence of XMRV playing a role in CFS.
The team analysed tissue samples from 186 patients with the condition using sensitive molecular testing techniques. No molecular evidence of XMRV was found in any of the samples tested.
The scientists say anti-retroviral drugs should not be given to people with CFS as they are unlikely to be effective.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome affects an estimated three in 1,000 members of the population, producing severe physical and mental tiredness that is not alleviated by rest. Other symptoms include muscle pain, headaches, joint pain and depression.
Although the condition is now recognised as a genuine and not imagined disorder, its cause remains a mystery.
"Our research was carried out under rigorous conditions - we looked at samples from well-studied patients, and we used very sensitive testing methods to look for the virus. If it had been there, we would have found it. The lab in which we carried out the analysis had never housed any of the murine (mouse/rat) leukaemia viruses related to XMRV, and we took great care to ensure there was no contamination. We are confident that our results show there is no link between XMRV and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, at least in the UK," Professor Myra McClure, from Imperial College London, one of the authors of the new study, said.
The new UK research has been published in PLoS ONE.
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