Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Virus Tied To Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
National Public Radio:
IRA FLATOW, host:
You're listening to SCIENCE FRIDAY from NPR News. I am Ira Flatow.
Up next, the latest on a mysterious illness called chronic fatigue syndrome. Researchers have been studying people who have been diagnosed with it, trying to figure out what might be causing their symptoms, which range from joint pain, debilitating fatigue and inflammation.
A team of researches reports that - the team report that they hit - they've hit on something. Out of 101 people diagnosed with chronic fatigue, 67 percent of them had a specific virus in their blood: a virus called XMRV. And just four percent, or so, of healthy volunteers had the virus in their blood. Scientists have known about the virus for a while. It's been implicated in other diseases.
Joining me now to talk more about this work, published in the journal Science, is John Coffin, professor of molecular biology and microbiology at Tufts University in Boston.
Welcome to SCIENCE FRIDAY, Dr. Coffin.
Dr. JOHN COFFIN (Professor of molecular biology and microbiology, Tufts University, Boston): Good afternoon, Ira. Thank you.
FLATOW: So, this is a pretty good indication, a pretty good connection?
Dr. COFFIN: For a first report, it's very good, in fact. There's still a lot of work to be done, to firmly establish a causal relationship between the virus and the disease. But it's a very, very interesting first step.
FLATOW: Well, this would also vindicate a lot of people who have chronic fatigue syndrome who have, you know, been abused by people who think it's all in your head, you've got something else, it's just a syndrome, there's no real cause to it. Things like that.
Dr. COFFIN: I would imagine that's the case, yes.
FLATOW: Mm-hmm. And so how did you go about - what was your motivation for looking for this viral connection?
Dr. COFFIN: I have to make one thing very clear right here. The work we're discussing was not mine. It was done by other groups. I'm a very interested observer and chronicler of their work. And I had worked on this virus many years ago when we thought it was just a mouse virus.
The people that did work on it, ...