A press release from the Netherlands indicates that the FDA and NIH have independently confirmed the association of XMRV with chronic fatigue syndrome as published last fall in Science. Apparently two journalists for the Dutch magazine ORTHO obtained a copy of a lecture by Dr. Harvey Alter in Zagreb which confirms these findings. According to Newswire.com:
The ORTHO journalists were able to obtain a pdf document of the lecture given by Harvey Alter at the IPFA/PEI 17th Workshop on ‘Surveillance and screening of Blood Borne Pathogens’ in Zagreb. The International Plasma Fractionation Association (IPFA) represents the not-for-profit organizations around the world involved in plasma fractionation. The IPFA is based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
The highly-experienced Dr. Harvey Alter is Clinical Studies Chief at the Infectious Diseases and Immunogenetics Section of the Department of Transfusion Medicine at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda. “The data in the Lombardi, et al Science manuscript are extremely strong and likely true, despite the controversy”, was one comment on the XMRV findings reported by Alter in Zagreb. “Although blood transmission to humans has not been proved, it is probable. The association with CFS is very strong, but causality not proved. XMRV and related MLVs are in the donor supply with an early prevalence estimate of 3%â€7%. We (FDA & NIH) have independently confirmed the Lombardi group findings.”
ORTHO contacted Dr. Harvey Alter today for a reaction. He did not want to comment, but confirmed that a paper is soon to be published.
I’m not entirely sure what it means to have confirmed the Lombardi group findings. Did the FDA and NIH use the same clinical specimens, or independently collected ones? We’ll have to wait for the article to appear to find out.