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Supposed XMRV virus, chronic fatigue link undermined by new research

New research has further undermined an already widely questioned supposed link between a virus and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Between 1 million and 4 million Americans are thought to have chronic fatigue syndrome, a mysterious disorder that causes prolonged and severe fatigue, body aches and other symptoms.

In 2009, a team of scientists in Nevada reported finding evidence of a virus known as the xenotrophic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV) in the blood of patients with the disorder. That generated excitement that a cause may have finally been found, and prompted the American Red Cross to bar chronic fatigue patients from donating blood.

But subsequent studies aimed at confirming the findings have produced mixed results, with most failing to duplicate the findings. In June, two research teams reported that the virus was a laboratory contaminant incapable of infecting human blood.

In the new research, published online Thursday by the journal Science, researchers at nine different laboratories, including the authors of the original report, analyzed blood samples form 15 people previously reported to be infected with XMRV or a related virus and 15 healthy people. Only two of the labs found the virus in the supposedly infected individuals and both also found the virus in the healthy people and produced conflicting results.


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