By Crystal Phend, Senior Staff Writer, MedPage Today
Published: March 06, 2010
SAN FRANCISCO -- A novel retrovirus implicated in prostate cancer appears to be transmitted much the way HIV is, researchers found.
The recently-discovered xenotropic murine leukemia related virus -- dubbed XMRV -- likely spreads through contact with blood and semen, Eric A. Klein, MD, of the Cleveland Clinic, and colleagues reported here at the Genitourinary Cancers Symposium.
Semen dramatically enhanced infectivity of the virus, allowing it to slip more easily into human cells, they found.
"It's behaving just like the two other retroviruses that cause disease in humans," Klein told MedPage Today.
Infectious disease experts, too, have likened their scramble to make sense of the virus to the early days of HIV research, but caution that there has yet to be any clear causal evidence showing that XMRV leads to disease.
The virus has also been implicated in a high number of chronic fatigue syndrome cases in an apparent outbreak, but studies have been unable to confirm the link in other cohorts.