Presentation given in Goteborg, Sweden, end of 2010, by Judy Mikovits, Director of Research, Whittemore Peterson Institute. [Note, since this presentation, Mikovits was removed as Director of Research in August 2011, following a charge of stealing computers and computer data from the University of Nevada.]
Retroviruses - envelope viruses; have a lipid by-layer; made up of RNA which transcribes itself into DNA to clone itself inside cells.
In March 2006, there had been a paper by Bob Silverman, an immunologist, which claimed identification of a novel gammaretrovirus in prostate tumors of patients homozygous for R462Q RNASEL varient.
You can put the DNA of the virus onto a virochip. It gives a profile picture. It shows that the XMRV that we are looking at in M.E. is close, but not identical to the XMRV virus as found in mice.
How it got into humans is unclear (see post below about the HIV virus likely stemming from polio vaccines). Integration into human tissue demonstrates that XMRV is a human infection.
XMRV has enhanced transcriptional activity in prostate cancer cell lines (Rodriguez, Goff, Virol, 2010), and its expression is stimulated by androgens (=a hormone), estrogens and cortisol. The activation of cortisol through stress leads to the hypothesis that this allows better conditions for the retrovirus to transcript and spread. (Again, refer to my earlier post about importance of deep relaxation sessions to help relieve some of the symptoms of M.E.)
There are 3 types of human retroviruses:
HTLV1 - favors infections of T lymphocytes
Once the retrovirus is expressing itself, the body should make antibodies. In the much publicized research of Mitkovits at WPI, evidence was detected that revealed XMRV infection in 67% of CFS patients, and just 4% in normal subjects.
In a study trying to observe the growth of XMRV, there was an ABSENCE of XMRV protein expression/transmission in plasma from healthy subjects vs. CFS patients. The study also managed to directly isolate XMRV from plasma of M.E. patients.
Mitkovits goes on to mention other studies done elsewhere that came up with negative results and lead to much of the ideas about XMRV in M.E. patients to be shunned. She speculates on the possible reasons for polar results to the studies that she has been involved in, which give hope that her findings about XMRV at the WPI could still be valid:
- Is XMRV present only in US and not in Europe where the negative findings were made? - Unlikely, but mentions how distribution of another retrovirus, HTLV1, is endemic to SW Japan, the Caribbean, and Central Africa, and uncommon elsewhere.
- PCR primers would not recognize all strains
- Peripheral blood and prostrate - not major in vivo reservoirs
- Patient selection and methods vary
- False positives due to PCR contamination with mouse cells
Cites study by Lo et al, 2010 - found different MLV-related sequences in CFS. (More specifically, this study seems to be: Detection of MLV-related virus gene sequences in blood of patients with CFS and healthy blood donors, by Lo, Pripuzova, Li, Komaroff, Hung, Wang, Alter.) The most interesting point about this is that they re-tested 9 of their original CFS subjects fifteen years later, and 8 out of the 9 subjects showed the same pattern of results.
Mitkovits goes on to comment about potential treatments for retroviruses. One example is the retrovirus HTLV. This causes inflammation at the back of brain/top of neck. The medication that can be used to overcome this would not be appropriate for XMRV because it can stimulate the hormones that make it ripe for XMRV to spread.
Breast milk can be a mode of transmission for human gamma retrovirus.
50% of all family members with a CFS case are XMRV positive, but XMRV cannot be transmitted through casual contact.
As a lot of CFS onset cases happen during teenage years, there is even more credibility in the idea that XMRV is a hormone responsive virus.
It's the co-pathogens that defines AIDS - likewise XMRV causes an immune deficiency but not necessarily all the symptoms in themselves.
A commentator at the end points out that the information in this presentation hasn't been published.