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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

Research casts doubt on theory of cause of chronic fatigue

By Trine Tsouderos




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | (MCT) A high-profile scientific paper that gave enormous hope to patients diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, and even prompted some to begin taking potent anti-HIV drugs, has been largely discredited by subsequent research.

Evidence is mounting that a retrovirus called XMRV is not a new human pathogen infecting millions, as was feared, but a laboratory contaminant.

Cancer biologist Robert Silverman, a key researcher at Cleveland Clinic's Lerner Research Institute who worked on studies that linked XMRV to chronic fatigue syndrome and prostate cancer, told the Tribune his lab had stored a cell line known to harbor XMRV and he was working to determine if contamination occurred. Virologists who have examined work by Silverman and others have raised serious questions about contamination, an unfortunate but not unusual mishap in the field.

"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."

A European research team this week reported being unable to find any evidence of XMRV in the blood of people diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and their healthy peers, the latest in a stream of studies in which researchers looking for the retrovirus in the blood of both sick and healthy people have come up empty. Others have reported no evidence of the retrovirus in the blood of patients who were previously found to be XMRV-positive.

The Tribune reported last year that the original research on chronic fatigue syndrome and XMRV had led some patients to get tested for the retrovirus and take anti-retroviral drugs intended to treat HIV, which causes AIDS. The situation highlights the danger in putting too much stock in one scientific study, even one in a prestigious journal. Studies need to be replicated, and early research is often proved wrong.


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The original study, published in Science in 2009, was led by retroviral immunologist Judy Mikovits of the private Whittemore Peterson Institute for Neuro-Immune Disease in Reno, Nev. The institute plans to open a clinic that in May would begin treating patients diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and other neuro-immune diseases. Despite the newer research, its leaders strongly deny that contamination could account for their findings.

"It is clearly a human infection," Mikovits, the institute's director of research, told an audience at a January presentation hosted by a California alternative medical practice. "It is clearly circulating through the population as is our fear and your fear."

Scientists say there is no evidence to support her statement.

"Saying that is just inciting fear," said Columbia University virologist Vincent Racaniello.

Mikovits, who once worked at the National Cancer Institute in Frederick, Md., has made increasingly broad statements about XMRV. At the January talk, she showed a slide connecting XMRV to a list of frustrating medical conditions like ALS, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis and dementia. She also linked it to autism. But no published data exist to support those links.

Mikovits also talked about potential treatments, including the powerful anti-retroviral drugs used to treat people who have HIV. These have not been proved safe or effective for people with chronic fatigue syndrome or any of the other conditions listed.

The WPI's director of clinical services, Dr. Jamie Deckoff-Jones, who has chronic fatigue syndrome and has taken anti-retroviral drugs for a year, is using a personal blog to allege a cover-up by researchers seeking to discredit the XMRV link.

"So is there motivation for the cover-up and baseless attacks against Dr. Mikovits?" she wrote in a posting that has been widely circulated on patient forums. "They cannot attack the data because it is impeccable."

WPI President Annette Whittemore, whose daughter has been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, said in an interview that she thinks politics are at play.

"I thought we were going to solve my daughter's illness or at least fund more significant treatments," said Whittemore, who founded the institute. "I didn't think we would have such political pushback. That was so naive of me."

Whittemore also defended patients trying anti-retrovirals, saying they are safe if used under an experienced doctor's care.

"Patients choose to try these drugs because they are so sick they have lost their entire lives to this illness," she wrote in an e-mail. "As far as I am concerned, they are the pioneers paving the way forward for other sufferers."

In her presentation, Mikovits also described the antiretroviral drugs as "very well tolerated" by patients trying them for chronic fatigue syndrome.

"Very clearly something is going on in the majority of people being treated," she said. "Most don't notice they are taking them."

Physicians who work with HIV patients say antiretroviral drugs can cause significant side effects and that efficacy cannot be determined through anecdotes.

The chasm between the WPI and its supporters and many in the scientific community is emblematic of a new, modern-day dynamic in which patients keep close tabs on the work of researchers and feel empowered to challenge that work and form strong opinions about the quality of it.

Early on, many in the online chronic fatigue community threw their support behind WPI, believing strongly that XMRV was the cause of their illness. More than 1,000 people have paid for non-FDA-approved XMRV blood tests from a commercial lab associated with WPI and headed by Whittemore's husband, Harvey, according to state records. The tests range from $249 to $450, according to the lab website.

Patients' ardent support for XMRV as a cause has continued as other research teams have failed to find any evidence that it was true.

On one patient message board, a commenter wrote in February about not only having contributed multiple times to WPI but also having "sent letters, e-mails, tried to contribute ideas, talked with both Judy M. and Annette, considered whether there's an opportunity for venture capital funding, am willing to protest, knit a pair of socks, etc."

This month, 4,000 scientists and clinicians gathered in Boston for a retroviral conference that included 10 presentations offering evidence that XMRV is a lab contaminant. Mikovits did not attend.

Retrovirologist Jonathan Stoye, who co-wrote a supportive commentary that accompanied Mikovits' original study linking chronic fatigue syndrome and XMRV, said he has since changed his mind.

"I think there are serious problems," said Stoye, who works at MRC National Institute for Medical Research in London.

His co-author, John Coffin, a retrovirologist at Tufts University, agreed the evidence for a link between XMRV and human disease had been seriously weakened.

"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."

Coffin began harboring doubts about Mikovits' study as negative evidence piled up and after he, researcher Vinay Pathak at the National Cancer Institute and their colleagues found what they believe to be the parent viruses of XMRV.

The viruses, according to research Pathak presented at the Boston conference, recombined in a cell line called 22RV1 to create a new retrovirus — XMRV — sometime in the 1990s. The work is in the publication process.

That widely used cell line had been stored in Silverman's lab before he found evidence of the retrovirus in the prostate tissue of patients with a form of prostate cancer.

"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."

In the field of virology, contamination has sometimes been mistaken for real results. Greg Towers, a virologist from University College London, notes that the technology used is so sensitive that it takes only one molecule of genetic material to contaminate a sample.

Scientists have been reluctant to shut the door completely on the possibility that XMRV really is tied to human disease. Some questions remain unanswered, said Racaniello, of Columbia University. "I don't think it is time to put a lid on it," he said. "You have to carry the whole thing to its conclusion."

The XMRV story is, to Racaniello, an amazing opportunity for people to watch how science works in real time.

"It is like Watergate," he said. "You saw the Constitution work. You think, oh my gosh, it works! And this is science working. Science determines the truth. … It always sorts it out in the end."

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