XMRV Buzz – Silverman Concerns, BWG Study Underway, + Prostate Cancer Study

March 18, 2011

Posted by Cort Johnson

MEDIA WEEK- this has been Media Week for XMRV as large stories have shown up in Nature Magazine, Wall Street Journal and Chicago Tribune or the past 10 days or so.

Trine and the Trib on XMRV - Trine Tsouderous has carved out a place as a fierce skeptic of XMRV and the WPI over the past year and her latest article is, if anything, fiercer than ever. The big news in the article was the statement from the co-discoverer of XMRV, Dr. Silverman, that of his concern about contamination in his lab and his report that the lab had previously stored the 22RV1 cell line in it.

“I am concerned about lab contamination, despite our best efforts to avoid it,” Silverman wrote in an e-mail, adding that similar cell lines “are in many, many labs around the world. Contamination could come from any one of a number of different sites.”

“22RV1 cells were once previously (more than a year earlier) grown in my lab but were being stored in a liquid nitrogen freezer at the time, and not the same freezer used to store prostate tissues,” Silverman wrote in an e-mail. “At the time it was unknown that 22RV1 cells were infected with XMRV.”

Like almost all of the recent bad news about XMRV the fact that the 22RV1 cell was in his lab is circumstantial. It doesn’t necessarily mean XMRV got from that cell line into his samples and there is still no ‘smoking gun’.  However, if  Silverman and the WPI exchanged materials it does potentially set up a straight line from his lab to the WPI.

Only time will tell how it turns out. Many labs carry the 22RV1 cell line and if XMRV is escaping from it one has to wonder why XMRV isn’t showing up everywhere instead of being incredibly hard to find.  Why show up in the WPI, Silverman and NCI labs and not the BSRI, CDC, Joliceur, McClure, Groom, Heinrich, etc. labs? There are still many pieces of the puzzle to put together.

Dr. Silverman is reportedly working very hard on clearing these matters up and we’ll probably have to await a paper before we can come to a conclusion on his labs role in XMRV.

There was nothing positive for XMRV in the rest of the article. Dr. Coffin stated “I think most people are reasonably convinced that there is not much left anymore,” Coffin said. But, he said, “I don’t think everything has been nailed down.”

Dr. Racaniello also felt the research must go forward and it is. The CFIDS Association just reported that the Lipkin study is moving forward as planned. Expect studies out from Dr. Silverman and  Dr. Levy in the not too distant future. Nobody seems clear about where the much delayed Singh study is or the GSK/CFIDS Association study.

The Blood Working Group Study  – on that subject the CAA also reported that the all important BWG study is in the sample collection phase. XMRV is being hit pretty hard right now but a positive BWG study would presumably turn everything around. Results are expected  in the summer.

More Studies! - The studies keep piling out.

  • A Japanese study found no evidence of XMRV in 100 CFS or 500 prostate cancer patients using PCR or antibodies but then concluded that “the lack of adequate human specimens as a positive control in Ab screening and the limited sample size do not allow us to draw an ultimate conclusion.”
  • A Journal of Urology study did find XMRV in 17% of malignant prostate cancer tissues but concluded based on other tests that it did not play a role in causing prostate cancer.
  • Another Journal of Urology study found XMRV in 1 out of 67 cases of prostate cancer.
  • Yet another Journal of Urology paper by Silverman and Klein found that culturing XMRV in prostate cancer cells triggers the production of genes associated  with inflammation

Dr. Mikovit spoke yesterday in Alberta on how to find XMRV and got an excellent review from XMRV Global Action including some news that made the reporters “jaw drop” but which she was asked not to report.  Her talk was well received by the researchers present.

Dr. Peterson will be in Alberta in just two weeks to give his talk on XMRV in ME/CFS: Is this newly discovered retrovirus an innocent bystander or central player? ” sponsored by the ME/CFS Action Network.



{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

John March 22, 2011 at 12:15 pm

I could be wrong but from what I’ve read I think the deal with Trine is that her sister is some sort of scientist or doctor or something with a conservative viewpoint and who gives Trine ideas for her articles, so Trine’s articles are basically skeptical of anything not ‘mainstream’. She picks easy targets and rolls over them which is ok in some instances, but sometimes she makes no attempt whatsoever to portray the discussion accurately.

For instance notice how her recent ‘Chronic Lyme’ article painted the patients as a bunch of nutjobs and the ‘mainstream’ scientists/researchers as bastions of sensibility when the question of whether ‘Chronic Lyme’ is really a chronic infection with the Lyme bacterium isn’t really the entire point of chronic Lyme patient and research groups but rather the main questions are what exactly is chronic Lyme and why are these people still sick? Is it a persistant infection, a post-viral sequelae, an autoimmune disorder or what? Also notice how the Trib didn’t cover the recent breakthrough Lyme/CFS spinal fluid study- Trine pointed out in a recent XMRV article that ‘some papers’ (but not the Trib) covered the initial XMRV findings with great fanfare- it looks like Trine’s whole schtick is to not cover breaking news but to wait to see what pans out and what doesn’t and then to go all out on the things that don’t. That said, I actually thought that this most recent XMRV article was not only one of her better ones but actually was one of the better recent XMRV articles in general.


Cort March 22, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Thanks John, I hope we get more positive articles from Trine in the future. The Dockser Marcus article in the Wall Street Journal yesterday about research possibilities in CFS was very encouraging.


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