XMRV Virus: a lesson in science communication?

Researchers from Professor Greg Towers’ and Paul Kellam’s groups, with colleagues from the Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, published an article in Retrovirology showing that the virus called XMRV that has been associated with chronic fatigue/ME and prostate cancer cannot be a human pathogen. It received a great deal of press interest.
As Professor Towers comments “the blogs that lead from a lot of these articles are very entertaining and illustrative of the pitfalls in science communication!”

Original Article: Stéphane Hué, Eleanor R Gray, Astrid Gall, Aris Katzourakis, Choon Ping Tan, Charlotte J Houldcroft, Stuart McLaren, Deenan Pillay, Andrew Futreal, Jeremy AGarson, Oliver G Pybus, Paul Kellam and Greg J Towers
Disease-associated XMRV sequences are consistent with laboratory contamination
Retrovirology 2010, 7:111doi:10.1186/1742-4690-7-111 (Link)

Guardian - Scientists conclude mouse virus does not cause ME.
Independent - ME 'virus' was actually a lab mistake
BBC News - ME 'not caused by the XMRV virus', say researchers
Wall St Journal - XMRV: Raising the Issue of Contamination
WebMD - Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Not Caused by XMRV Virus, Study Finds
CBC - Chronic fatigue virus study tainted: scientist
New York Times
Labmate Online
Los Angeles Times
National Public Radio
Bloomberg BusinessWeek
Nature blog -

Page last modified on 02 feb 11 11:16 by Karen Rumsey