By Amy Dockser Marcus, The Wall Street Journal, WSJ.com:
The debate over what XMRV may do to humans continues. But at least in a small group of monkeys, one thing is clear, according to a new study.
“The virus causes chronic, persistent infection,” says Robert Silverman of the Cleveland Clinic, a co-author of the paper, which was published online yesterday in the Journal of Virology. Moreover, the new research suggests that in these monkeys, at least, the virus can be difficult to detect in blood, even though it’s taken root in the body.
This is a tantalizing finding because it raises the prospect that someone could be infected with XMRV but show no clinical symptoms of disease until years, possibly decades, later.
The study involved five macaque monkeys who were infected intravenously with XMRV. Researchers were studying the monkeys for a variety of reasons. Abbott Labs — which helped fund the study and whose scientists were among the researchers — is one of a number of companies developing tests that could potentially be used to screen the blood supply for XMRV. Abbott scientists have used the XMRV-positive monkey blood in their test development process.
Researchers looking at what happens after XMRV infection in people also needed an animal model and monkeys are “about as close as we can get to what happens in humans,” says Eric Klein, a Cleveland Clinic prostate-cancer surgeon who was also involved in the study. Read more>>