Questionable Motives

October 15, 2009

An excellent example of generalized peer review in action

Filed under: Medicine — tildeb @ 3:48 pm

medicineOver at Science Based Medicine is a fascinating article about a new association reported to be found by reputable researchers between a retrovirus and a significant percentage of people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome compared to a control group.

Scientists have discovered a potential retroviral link to chronic fatigue syndrome, known as CFS, a debilitating disease that affects millions of people in the United States. Researchers from the Whittemore Peterson Institute (WPI), located at the University of Nevada, Reno, the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, and the Cleveland Clinic, report this finding online Oct. 8, 2009, issue of Science.

“We now have evidence that a retrovirus named XMRV is frequently present in the blood of patients with CFS. This discovery could be a major step in the discovery of vital treatment options for millions of patients,” said Judy Mikovits, Ph.D., director of research for WPI and leader of the team that discovered this association. Researchers cautioned however, that this finding shows there is an association between XMRV and CFS but does not prove that XMRV causes CFS.

Sampson’s post is quite interesting that leans very much towards somatization (converting psychological stresses into physical symptoms) as an explanation. But please read the responses, too: there are several that challenge Sampson’s position with equally credible counterpoints. These peers are having a very informed discussion not about which one, if any, has the only correct answer but how best to account for what evidence there is. How very refreshing.

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