by Jon Cohen on 6 May 2011, sciencemag.org:
The lead author of the contested Science paper, retrovirologist Judy Mikovits of the Whittemore Peterson Institute for Neuro-Immune Disease in Reno, Nevada, isn't persuaded by the Singh group's inability to detect XMRV in anyone. "I was astounded when I leaned that Ila [Singh] didn't find it," says Mikovits. "These are good scientists."
Mikovits says she remains confident that the 14 CFS patients she selected for Singh's group have XMRV in their bodies. "These people are infected," says Mikovits. "This study says nothing. We have complete confidence in every bit of the results in the Science paper. We don't think any of it is wrong. There is no evidence of contamination in our lab, and we have controlled for that all along."
Mikovits notes that Singh's group did not use the identical protocols for every analysis, and stresses that discrepancies between their labs may also reflect her own finding that XMRV levels vary in patients day to day. Singh counters that although some protocol differences exist, they worked closely with Mikovits' team to replicate the original work. Singh says the fact that they didn't find XMRV in any of these patients is significant. "She [Mikovits] pointed us toward patients that she had repeatedly tested positive," says Singh. "We should have found at least one that was positive. Not all of them would have gone negative on the day when a phlebotomist met with them."
Mikovits cautions that her Science report did not assert that XMRV causes CFS but only claimed to have detected XMRV in CFS patients. But the large community of CFS patients, who often find themselves confronting a medical establishment that questions the very existence of their disease, pounced on this finding, and some even started taking antiretroviral medicine to treat their supposed XMRV infections.