Researchers have discovered an infectious virus in a significant percentage of people with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. The virus, xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV), just last month was reported to be linked to prostate cancer.
Similar to HIV, XMRV is a retrovirus, which means it inserts its DNA right into your cell’s genetic makeup. Once infected, the virus remains permanently in the body. The virus creates an immune deficiency that can leave people susceptible to a wide range of diseases.
If the host’s immune system is unable to keep it under control it is possible that drugs could be used to treat it.
The researchers say that XMRV doesn’t seem to replicate as quickly as HIV does. Scientists aren’t sure how XMRV is transmitted, but the infection was found in patients’ blood samples, which raises the possibility that it could be transmitted through blood or bodily fluids.
In addition, researchers are unsure if the XMRV infection led to a weakened immune system contributing to the disease, or if the disease impacted the immune system and enabled the virus to become established.
This could be groundbreaking research leading to new treatments, but there are more questions than answers at this point and substantial additional research lies ahead.
The study was conducted by researchers Judy Mikovits and Vincent Lombardi in the lab at Whittemore Peterson Institute for Neuro-Immune Disease in Reno, Nev. The results of the study were published last week in Science