Why John Coffin doesn’t sleep well

2 October 2010

John Coffin, Professor of Genetics and Molecular Microbiology at Tufts University, studies the molecular biology and evolution of retroviruses. He wrote a commentary (A new virus for old diseases?) that accompanied the publication by Lombardi and colleagues of the finding of the new retrovirus XMRV in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome, and has spoken widely about whether this virus has a causative role in the disease. In this video he expresses cautious optimism about the role of XMRV (and related murine retroviruses) in human disease. Note in particular his statement “While the major XMRV studies to date appear to be well controlled for these problems, extreme caution is necessary”.

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  • Gob987

    The best thing to do is therefore to put money into research and find out, is XMRV there and does it cause disease. This is the real issue that concerns patients with ME.

    Government funding of biomedical research in the UK has been non-existent in the UK for about ten years now, with charities only able to raise a few hundred thousand. The situation in the US is similar, with little funding going to biomedical research. Yet the number of those with the disease is incredible and their quality of life very poor. Why are they being ignored?

  • guest

    Dr Coffin isn't sleeping well at night…….well I'm an XMRV positive and i'm not sleeping well either!

    I thought it seemed like a positive thing being in a clinical study for XMRV but it is actually very stressful.
    I'm XMRV positive and I'm sick with CFS….but contamination may of found its way into my blood in a lab and maybe im not XMRV positive after all.

    I won't be sleeping till we get answers, I think Dr Coffin and I will not be getting any sleep soon!

  • Simon

    I think scientists don't believe CFS is really serious, that's why they think it is likely contamination.

  • Gob987

    And yet we know of lots of people who have had ME/CFS written as the cause of death on many death certificates.

  • Jeanharrison

    if the lab were contaminated wouldn't it mean that a similar % of controls be positive for XMRV?

  • Spider

    Are the rest of the videos from this conference going to be available at some point?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Xand-Xmrv/100000436316743 Xand Xmrv

    The sole possibility that XMRV prevalence is as stated by the two published studies that says 85% on CFS and 4%-7% in healthy controls, is strong enough argument to fund further studies FAST to come out with a definite answer instead of seeding the doubt of the credibility of these results.

    In my view “contamination argument” is just an excuse to undermine the strength of these studies and try to avoid the subject. If you think is contamination, proove it, do a “replica”. No single lab with a negative study as done an exact replica of Lombardi study, it makes no sense to do any claims if you have not followed the same preocess.

  • Jimk

    Much as some of us may hate the uncertainty of the process, the issue of contamination has to be ruled out scientifically for this to go forward. There are some scientists who probably have a stake in pushing this issue for ideological or political reasons, but Coffin is not one of them. He's asking the question because it has to be clarified and methods have to be cross-checked to rule this out. This is, unfortunately for we who have been waiting too long already, the way this stuff gets hashed out in science: someone finds something, others raise questions (for whatever reasons), others counter with studies to rule it out, and so on. I don't think this can be pushed into the background at this point, so it will happen. And may legitimize research in ME/CFS to get it on the map, even if XMRV proves wrong.

  • someone watching closely

    Without the context of the full original video, knowledge of its origins, and whether “creative” editing took place, Dr. Coffin's own words can be used either to support or detract XMRV research.

  • Gob987

    Is it from the conference? Could we have some more detail please, like the title of the talk, and where it was recorded, and if it is a repeat of another talk.

    Thanks

  • Eric

    I agree with Dr Coffin that we should be cautious. But I also think that this analysis is very strong indeed.

    There were reports from three labs in Lombardi et al, so now there are maybe seven labs giving positive reports on CFS. And they all find around 3-4% for normals, ~85% for CFS. So, it seems rather likely to me (maybe 75% likely, or even more?) that the reports are true. Though it could still be merely more detectable in CFS patients for some reason (not that that seems particularly likely, but it could certainly happen), and so on; and even if not, it still might not be causal.

  • Sheila

    How can contamination explain the Alter/Lo longitudinal results testing blood from patients 15 years ago and then present day and finding the MLV's have changed ever so slightly as would be expected in a retroviral infection?

  • Sheila

    How can contamination explain the different ratios of virus found in patients and controls, surely if it were down to contamination you would expect to find the same level in all sample?

  • Sheila

    Would you expect to be able to culture the virus and grow it on in cell lines as Lombarid et al were able to do if it were contamination?

  • Sheila

    Would you expect to find antibodies to the virus in patients but not in controls if it were just due to contamination?

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  • Toerevla

    I thing I would be a great mistake if the virologists first dazzle the world with their primary findings and then say : we shouldn't be too optimistic because of this or that. It's very simple; if it doesn't proof to be XMRV it's very likely there's no virus involved in CFS. I am a patient for almost 6 years now and I have tried every possible way to conquer this disease. Let's us pray (not to God, he's forsaken us long ago) for scientists who want to find a solution instead of those who want to fil their pockets.

  • http://profiles.google.com/strumken Ken Coffin

    Glad to see progress in science!!! Funny thing, you have the same name as me John Coffin? Thought I was the only one besides my gradfather? Lot of history in a name! Been to the Island, lately..be fun to check it out! Guess we were waler’s at sometime. God Bless!!

    John K. Coffin, II

  • http://profiles.google.com/strumken Ken Coffin

    What the heck?

    Been a Coffin all mylife! Did learn how to fight though> lol!

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