Discovery of New Retrovirus XMRV Brings Hope to Millions of Sufferers of Lyme Disease

Discovery of New Retrovirus XMRV Brings Hope to Millions of Sufferers of Lyme Disease

Out of the tragic and deadly AIDS epidemic; medical researchers have brought about a wave of new scientific breakthroughs which has benefited hundreds if not thousands of suffering people with related diseases due to immune dysfunction.

As the search for better tools and treatments continue to advance for “AIDS”, there have been more and more infections that have come to light with startling similarities and frightening correlations – most recently a retrovirus present in Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS) and prostate cancer.

The October issue of Science Magazine reports that researchers from the Whittemore Peterson Institute (WPI), located at the University of Nevada, Reno, the National Cancer Institute (NCI), (part of the National Institutes of Health) have discovered a retroviral link to “CFIDS”, a debilitating disease that affects millions of people in the United States.

Given the close relationship between those who suffer with chronic neurological Lyme disease, MS, Fibromyalgia,  and CFS, it is not surprising to see similarities in the mutual findings of Dr. Judy Mikovits (pictured at top of story), the brilliant biochemist and respected scientific researcher for WPI (Institute from Neuro-Immune Disease) and recent leader of the team that discovered this association.

“We now have evidence that a retrovirus named XMRV is frequently present in the blood of patients with CFS. This discovery could be a major step in the discovery of vital treatment options for millions of patients,” said Dr. Mikovits in a recent press release.

The WPI team provide a new hypothesis for a retrovirus link with CFS. The virus, XMRV, was first identified by Robert H. Silverman, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Cancer Biology at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute, in men who had a specific immune system defect that reduced their ability to fight viral infections.

“The discovery of XMRV in two major diseases, prostate cancer and now chronic fatigue syndrome, is very exciting. If cause-and-effect is established, there would be a new opportunity for prevention and treatment of these diseases,” said Silverman, a co-author on the CFS paper.

These results were also supported by the observation of retrovirus particles in patient samples when examined using transmission electron microscopy. The data demonstrate the first direct isolation of infectious XMRV from humans.

“These compelling data allow the development of a hypothesis concerning a cause of this complex and misunderstood disease, since retroviruses are a known cause of neurodegenerative diseases and cancer in man,” said Francis Ruscetti, Ph.D., Laboratory of Experimental Immunology, NCI.

Retroviruses like XMRV have also been shown to activate a number of other latent viruses. This could explain why so many different viruses, such as Epstein-Barr virus, which was causally linked to Burkitt’s and other lymphomas in the 1970s, have been associated with CFS. It is important to note that retroviruses, like XMRV, are not airborne.

“The scientific evidence that a retrovirus is implicated in CFS opens a new world of possibilities for so many people,” said Annette Whittemore, founder and president of WPI and mother of a CFS patient. “Scientists can now begin the important work of translating this discovery into medical care for individuals with XMRV related diseases.”

Dan Peterson, M.D., medical director of WPI added, “Patients with CFS deal with a myriad of health issues as their quality of life declines. I’m excited about the possibility of providing patients, who are positive for XMRV, a definitive diagnosis, and hopefully very soon, a range of effective treatments options.”

Researchers cautioned however, that this finding shows there is an association between XMRV and CFS but does not prove that XMRV causes CFS. However, the WPI has such confidence in their findings that they have actually renamed CFS “XAND” for X Associated Neuro=Immune Disease.

WPI further states:

We have detected the retroviral infection XMRV is greater than 95% of the more than 200 ME/CFS, Fibromylagia, Atypical MS patients tested. The current working hypothesis is that XMRV infection of B, T, NK and other cells of the innate immune response causes the chronic inflammation and immune deficiency resulting in an inability to mount an effective immune response to opportunistic infections.

This discovery opens an entire new avenue of Neuro-Immune Disease related research and our discovery has brought to this field world-renown immunologists and retrovirologists building our team of collaborators to translate our discoveries into new treatments as soon as possible.

Because retroviruses are known to cause inflammatory diseases, neurological disease immune deficiency and cancer the discovery of XMRV has far reaching implications for the prevention and treatment of not only lymphoma, one of the potentially devastating complications of ME/CFS but prostate cancer and perhaps many others such as neurological Lyme disease.

The Whittemore Peterson Institute for Neuro Immune Disease exists to bring discovery, knowledge, and effective treatments to patients with illnesses that are caused by acquired dysregulation of both the immune system and the nervous system, often resulting in lifelong disease and disability.

Originally posted May 21, 2011

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One Response to Discovery of New Retrovirus XMRV Brings Hope to Millions of Sufferers of Lyme Disease

  1. Thank you for a terrific article, Jenna.

    A specialist told me a bit about this before I was finally diagnosed with Lyme and began receiving treatment. My present LLMP also told me about it. So far in Canada, they are not regularly testing for it, and it is not covered by health insurance. It is quite expensive to get tested.

    There is hope for treatment, now that this discovery has been made, but so far, no treatment is forthcoming.

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